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Colin Farquhar: It ain’t over ’til it’s over – and we’ll have to keep compromising with Covid

The Scottish Government still recommends wearing face masks in public places (Photo: Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock)
The Scottish Government still recommends wearing face masks in public places (Photo: Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock)

With impeccable timing last week I finally managed to catch Covid.

Although the pandemic likely isn’t quite as over as it may feel, managing to catch it within the final weeks of the Scottish Government rules felt very “me” and very apt.

The restrictions, and the virus, have been the foremost thought in my life and business for the last two years. Surely I didn’t think I would get away without my turn?

Although we get through much of life with our humour, it would be wrong of me to be pithy in the entirety about a virus that has brought so much suffering over the last two years of our lives. Lest we forget, a lot of people have lost their lives prematurely.

Unlike some, I won’t fall into the folly of retconning the sacrifices that many made through the pandemic. It has been a difficult time.

Timing feels right to ease restrictions

It may be that the virus is, for now, less deadly, due to vaccines and a small stroke of evolutionary fortune, but people are still dying. It also still packs a wallop, even for those of us theoretically equipped to swat it away, or it did for me, anyway.

I was far more ill than I had expected, especially considering I’d pretty much convinced myself, after two years without as much as a sniffle, that I must be immune.

Scotland’s recent Covid case spike meant many people who had dodged it previously contracted the virus (Photo: Jon Kempner/Shutterstock)

Even with my well-timed reminder that “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over”, if it ever is, stepping forward with further loosening of restrictions in Scotland feels right, as cases begin to slide downwards again. It likely won’t be the last time we see a spike in the number of cases, but, much like in 2020, it feels like we all need as normal a summer as we can muster.

The infrastructure and knowledge now exist to facilitate a change of direction if needed later in the year, just a political decision away. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we can avoid it.

I think most of us can probably forgive others a few slips, unless it results in a chopped off ear, of course

I recall telling several people: “I’ll consider this pandemic to be over when we no longer have to wear masks in public”, but, here we are, now not obliged to wear masks, but with the pandemic still silently rumbling onward.

Nicola Sturgeon removed hers a few days early, while pretending to give someone a buzz cut. I think most of us can probably forgive others a few slips, unless it results in a chopped off ear, of course.

The ups and downs of face masks

I’ve had a slightly tumultuous relationship with face masks. I’m a glasses wearer, to start with. The “great steamings”, especially when the winter weather is on the nippier side, can be annoying.

My Mr Potato Head approach to fashion doesn’t help. Defogging means interfering with face masks, tammy, headphones and then, lastly, glasses. All this before they steam back up again anyway. I’m never sure exactly which flavour of crisps I’m reaching for in the local shop.

Glasses wearers know the foggy face mask struggle all too well (Photo: New Africa/Shutterstock)

For the most part, I’ve managed to get away without wearing a mask too often. Life has changed in a way where trips on planes, trains and buses, visits to the pub and, yes, to the cinema as well, have reduced greatly. I work in an office on my own for long stretches of time, I walk home and then I sit.

Online shopping means I can fairly often negotiate a life where my wearing one has been reduced to nipping to the shop for milk, or a bottle of wine, getting up to order at a bar, or going to the toilet.

We shouldn’t completely ditch face coverings yet

Life, as ever, is complicated. It’s an unfortunate reality that it’s hard to see this as the moment where we can rip off our cloths and throw them into the sky.

First Bus and ScotRail are still reminding passengers that, while face coverings are a personal choice, government guidance remains that they will help to keep people safe. Many arts venues, cinemas and galleries are doing the same.

Face masks are still being recommended by government in public places (Photo: Maureen McLean/Shutterstock)

People will continue to catch Covid and some of them will continue to get sick. It seems sensible that we keep that in mind.

Meanwhile, I will park my celebratory moment where I can chunter away unhindered and unimpeded until slightly farther in the future and keep my mask in my pocket for those occasions where it is needed.

If I’m in a space where people are comfortable without them, I’ll gladly remove mine too. For those occasions where people don’t, where I walk onto a train, or into a shop where travellers, customers or staff are still wearing them, I’ll be ready to put it back on.


Colin Farquhar is head of cinema operations for Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen

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