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Supermarket rage, furlough frustration and legalised cannabis: what Scots think should be done about Covid-19

The lack of observance of social distancing in shops has annoyed some people.
The lack of observance of social distancing in shops has annoyed some people.

Perhaps it was brave of ministers to open up debate on how to deal with Covid-19 to the public at large.

So far 70,000 people have downloaded a Scottish Government-sponsored “dialogue platform” for people to share their views about coming to terms with the virus.

Within a few hours of the online document being set up more than 1,000 ideas had been posted, which ranged from sound common sense to some that could be charitably described as somewhat unorthodox.

The 3,673 registered users contributed a further 5,227 comments as a vibrant, if sometimes left-field discussion, was undertaken.

A serious discourse about ending the lockdown was combined with some more bizarre offerings such as banning  the “filthy habit” of spitting to prevent disease transmission. One contributor, who admitted to “thinking outside the box”, suggested legalising cannabis would be an “incredibly beneficial economic stimulus as we approach a deep recession”.

Given Scotland is the home of golf perhaps it was unsurprising to see a clamour of calls for courses to be reopened. The ease with which the game can be played while observing social distancing was a point well made. There were those who argued that a round of golf was beneficial to mental health, although there will be others who will wonder how a sliced drive or missed putt can help peace of mind.

Golfers are desperate to see the return of the game they love.

Evidence of the Scottish passion for horticulture also emerged with impassioned pleas for garden centres to reopen.

As contributor MandyB put it: “Gardening has become so popular over the years – down to all the hard work and investment garden centre owners have put into their businesses over the years. Gardening hasn’t stopped during the lockdown and it is unfortunately B&Q and supermarkets who are reaping the benefits of garden centres’ hard work because the industry itself has been closed down by the government. This will have a catastrophic effect on the horticultural industry long term.”

Many took to the document to vent their spleen at the frustrations at life in lockdown. For example, one key worker described missing his girlfriend while observing those on furlough boozing in their gardens.

“I am supposed to be a key worker and have waited six weeks to see my girlfriend while your dreadful government is allowing drug addicts and alcoholics around the streets and others get 80 percent wages to sit about garndens (sic) drinking everyday without anything done and yet it is me that is breaking a law to visit my own girlfriend,” the poster wrote.

Meanwhile, the perils of a trip to the supermarket were enough to persuade another contributor that lockdown must be extended.

“As far as I can see many people are not adhering to the social distancing guidance,” the contributor said. “I see several people just walk right past each other and supermarkets are often chaos with rules not enforced within supermarkets, you queue outside and then it is basically a free for all inside. I’m sorry to say that people are already relaxing their poor adherence to this as if they don’t understand the severity. We need a longer period of the measures that we currently have in place.”

A more extreme suggestion as far as the lockdown was concerned saw another person suggesting the measures should remain in place for up to three years with the first minister footing the bill.

“I feel that we need a tougher lockdown for approximately two to three years to stop the spread who cares about the effects of our economy we can rebuild it human life is more important the economy is bricks and water I believe Nicola sturgeon could pay us all to stay at home with no schools or jobs only keep essential jobs going we need to save lives the human race,” was how it was put.

Unsurprisingly, others disagreed. With many calling for a relaxation of restrictions so they could see families, friends and partners.

As one contributor said: “Many have been asked to live without the support of a long term partner and the impact has been massive on mental health. For fairness and because it’s low risk, this should be allowed for couples ASAP.”

Members of the public have until May 11 to make their submissions to the Scottish Government document, which is part of its “Coronavirus (Covid-19): framework for decision making” exercise.

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