Scotland also contracted the coronavirus along with the rest of the world at the onset of the pandemic. The disease took the UK by surprise, because it was initially unable to control it and decided to give autonomy to its regions, including Scotland, in health matters. Scotland made the best of a bad situation and was almost able to dominate the disease. Although vaccination has started in Scotland and many cities are now in a good position, some Scottish cities, including Glasgow, are still quarantined. The situation has raised concerns for the people of Glasgow, and the Sturgeon government is working to remedy the situation in the city. Nicola Sturgeon is trying to break out of this pandemic and lead Scotland back to normal, so that she can implement her plans for the country.
- The Pandemic in Scotland
When the pandemic first hit the UK in the early months of 2020, there were no discernible differences in the Scottish and English government approaches. In March 2020, both Scotland and the rest of the UK imposed lockdowns later than other European countries.
Health is a devolved sector in the UK, so the Scottish government has full responsibility for health policy in Scotland. In May 2020, differences began to emerge between Scotland and the rest of the UK on pathways out of the lockdown and also on data, with the publication of the Test, Trace, Isolate, Support policy.
By establishing the SNH Centre, the Scottish government was able to obtain clear reports . Some of this information was disheartening, including the higher number of Covid deaths among Asians. The centre identified weaknesses and the government worked to reduce shortfalls.
Also, 5 Covid-19 protection levels (0-4) were established. The rules to be followed depend on the level for each council area.
Presently, most of mainland Scotland (other than islands at Level 1) is at Level 2. Orkney, Shetland, Na h-Eileanan Siar, all Highlands and Islands (except Skye), Argyll and Bute, Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree and Ulva are at Level 1. The Glasgow City Council area remains at Level 3.
- Restrictions in Glasgow
While most of Scotland’s major cities are at Level 2, Glasgow, one of Scotland’s tourist destinations, remains at Level 3 due to non-observance of Covid protocols and gatherings in large numbers. The number of hospitalised patients has not yet stabilised, so it was decided that Glasgow would remain at Level 3. As a result, some of the places and businesses which must stay closed include leisure and entertainment venues, such as cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, concert halls, stadiums, etc.
A Scottish government spokesman said: “We’ve been clear since the beginning of the pandemic and we will continue to follow scientific advice, keep plans under review and accelerate the lifting of restrictions when possible. We understand the difficult situation faced by local businesses as a result of Glasgow remaining at Level 3 and are doing all we can to mitigate the impact of the continued restrictions.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation and will look not just at the case numbers but also the data on hospital and ICU admissions before making a decision later this week.
“While we recognise that business support cannot, and is not intended to, make up for all losses, we are giving Glasgow City Council an additional £1.05 million a week to provide hospitality and leisure businesses up to £750 a week.”
However, Mr Clydesdale said they only received £525 and “that wouldn’t even have covered the wages for us to cancel the bookings”.
- Nicola Sturgeon and Post-Covid-19
The Scottish government will set out its “expectations” for what will come after Level 0 of Covid-19 restrictions, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
In a speech at the Scottish Parliament about her plans for the first 100 days of government, the first minister told MSPs the “most important priority” is to lead Scotland safely out of the pandemic. She said an announcement will come in the next three weeks on how Scotland will look once the levels system is scrapped. “As we come out of the pandemic, there will be bumps in the road – as we are experiencing in Glasgow just now,” she said. “But the vaccine rollout gives us firm hope that we are on the right track. So over the next three weeks, we will also set out our expectations for the stage beyond Level 0 – as we return to a much greater degree of normality.”
Sturgeon said in the first hundred days the Scottish government will publish an NHS recovery plan – “setting out how we will achieve a 10% increase in activity in key services”. She also said legislation to create a national care service will be introduced in the next 12 months.
Outlining the Scottish government’s priorities in Holyrood, the first minister said ministers aim to have the new service – which would focus on social care – established by the end of the parliamentary term.
The first minister told MSPs: “In our first hundred days, we will begin consultation on legislation to establish a National Care Service.
“We intend to introduce the legislation during the first year of this parliament, and expect the service to be operational by the end of this parliament.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is working towards making the programmes set out for Scotland to be implemented, especially since the general vaccination is also moving forward. In Glasgow, however, these plans have met with difficulty and the city has been a bad experience for Scotland and the government, where restrictions had to be extended. Restaurants and pubs remain closed in the city, which is a tourist destination, leading to the loss of many jobs in the tourism industry. Although the government provided aid to compensate, it was not paid in full.
Some of Sturgeon’s plans for the post-Covid era and Scottish reconstruction are too general and cannot be commented on. But the pandemic gave Nicola Sturgeon’s government an opportunity to see many of its problems and shortcomings, to repair and fix them, and perhaps the best thing this will achieve in the future is the trust of the people and an independent Scotland.