In the words of a Barbra Streisand song, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Our existence as a race of human beings depends and thrives on being with people we love and those whose company we enjoy.
Who would have believed that in the year 2020 families would be split apart, businesses closed down and the whole of the UK would go into lockdown?
We all have had to adapt to a changed and unfamiliar way of life. I never thought I would cope with four weeks, let alone the 15 that we have now had.
We can argue about the failings of both governments and the different pace between Scotland and England but eventually we will all arrive at the same destination. I do believe it was wise to move at a more cautious pace in Scotland but regrettably political games are being played on both sides of the border.
One thing is for sure, we could never face another full national lockdown if there is a second spike. It’s been little short of disaster for our country.
Our civil rights were trampled over and now we find there is concrete evidence that domestic abuse is on the rise. Fractured families were forced to stay locked down together, putting greater strain on relationships
Young people who had to remain in abusive homes could be severely damaged and will subsequently suffer permanent scars.
For years we have argued that isolation was a killer for older people living on their own. Yet that is what was imposed under lockdown. And despite being the only thing we were all well aware of, prior to the disease arriving in the UK (that the disease affected mainly older people) we somehow failed them.
Mental health problems are also starting to rise. Many people will suffer depression and anxiety and lose hope.
When all our efforts were rightly concentrated on fighting Covid-19, other medical conditions such as heart disease, lung and liver conditions, including many cancers, were left unresolved. This will affect thousands of people.
For millions of young people the six-month break in their education and lack of activities with their peers will have a long-lasting effect on their development. Despite having plenty of time to resolve the issues in this area, in England they are still dithering while in Scotland it took a former Labour first minister to ignite the debate on returning children to full-time education. Part-time blended schooling would create more problems and is virtually pointless. We already know only one in four children are doing the homework, which is disappointing given the time teachers have spent preparing it.
Just as resources were poured into the NHS when in crisis, so we must do the same when our children’s education is at stake.
In industry, the government move to furlough staff was a welcome initiative that at least protected most employees’ income. Others who could work from home did so.
But as we lift furlough, hundreds of thousands will find themselves out of work.
Unemployment figures will rocket. There will be a massive human cost to that, particularly since the preservation of jobs was one of the things the furlough scheme was meant to protect.
Following on from payment holidays, rent arrears and increases in the uptake of payday loans, many people will find themselves in serious debt which will make them mentally ill.
The economy of the UK will be seriously affected.
Now that the UK Government has finally accepted the World Health Organisation’s recommendations and abandoned the two-metre rule, it will remove the handicap on our business community and particularly tourism. The science tells us that a two-metre distance between people is not necessary when the virus is low and receding. One is sufficient.
Countries such as France, Germany and Denmark have proved this.
Of course we still need to remain aware, wash our hands and follow the medical advice.
The two-week quarantine at our airports is pointless. That should have been done at the start of the outbreak.
What we need to do now is to stop arrivals from high-risk countries and use testing at airports which would be more effective.
The UK governments’ idea of a testing app has totally failed. Neither have covered themselves in glory when it comes to testing.
And yet test and trace is the only, vital, way to keep a lid on the pandemic. Testing has always been the way yet both governments have struggled with this. Testing of people on a massive scale is required. All employers, all indoor events and large gatherings should have facilities for testing. That’s the only way we can operate test, track, trace and isolate policies. Interestingly some football clubs performing without spectators are testing players twice a week.
I think lockdown was the right approach but I believe it should have been done earlier and been much stricter in its application.
That clearly worked when applied in Germany, New Zealand and South Korea.
Lockdown was too long and costly both in heath and economic terms. The UK will not be able to stand another full national lockdown for a second time.
The virus will come back but this time our governments will have the experience of effective procedures and be able to learn lessons from other countries, and from their own failures. A more local lockdown where needed could be applied.
We will need to learn to live with this virus and to treat each other with respect, protecting and helping others. Hopefully, a cure will be developed in time.
Len Ironside is a former champion wrestler who served as an Aberdeen councillor for 35 years, four of them as council leader