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Opinion: Inverness BID boss backs cautious approach to post-Covid re-opening

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by Mike Smith, manager of Inverness Business Improvement District (BID)

Inverness BID manager Mike Smith.
Inverness BID manager Mike Smith.

Watching last week’s television coverage of the tennis at Wimbledon and football at the Euros I was struck by the real joy radiating from the vast crowds once again able to attend these major sporting events.

But like others I also had concerns as to the messages that the non-socially distanced pictures at each gathering would be giving to the general public.

The licensing of these so-called “test” events was part of the UK government’s statement that real change is on its way and was followed up by the Prime Minister proposing that England should move to step four on its road map out of Covid restrictions on July 19.

This would allow unlimited numbers of people to meet socially or at organised events, withdraw all social distancing restrictions and matters such as wearing a face covering would become a personal decision.

From a business perspective anything that allows businesses to operate with less restriction and have more opportunity to be profitable is normally to be welcomed, but the potential of this happening when there could be up to 50,000 daily Covid cases was a concern.

The Prime Minister’s judgement was that now is the best time to make this bold move.

Obviously the Scottish Government has been more cautious in its positioning and only announced this week their view as to the level of risk of a similar relaxation to level zero in this country, especially given the recent increased level of infection across Scotland – up as much as sixfold in the past five weeks.

A cautious approach to re-opening is less likely to cost us the gains already achieved. Picture: Callum Mackay.
A cautious approach to re-opening is less likely to cost us the gains already achieved. Picture: Callum Mackay.

On balance I have to say that, personally, I feel more comfortable with that more cautious approach to easing.

The economic and psychological arguments for successfully removing restrictions and moving forward are given.

But the underlying issues for me are that there is still some way to go in the mass vaccination programme.

All the indications are that we will need to live with Covid on a long term basis and so progressing with caution (or in part) may better ensure that we don’t lose the gains so far achieved at such a potentially great cost.

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