This weekend, David Stark was expecting to be in the Inner Hebrides visiting his girlfriend, Claire. Separated when she took a job there after redundancy during the pandemic, the pair had been looking forward to reuniting – but have been kept apart for longer because of new restrictions imposed on his home city of Glasgow and its surrounding areas.
The restrictions brought in on Tuesday allow businesses to remain open but residents are discouraged from visiting other people’s homes.
“I think there’s been a view in Scotland that we’re doing a better job of limiting the virus, so it was a bit of a surprise to see another lockdown in Glasgow,” says Stark, 29.
“I was a bit disappointed and frustrated, and a few more weeks could be really tough for her emotionally, being so cut off and isolated. But I’d rather our government was more careful than less.”
Not everyone has accepted the new regulations so easily. For many, a comparison with the recent lockdown in Aberdeen – which was linked to hospitality and saw businesses close for three weeks – raises confusion about why pubs and restaurants can continue to operate while families cannot meet in homes.
“I’ve followed all the rules since the start of this thing but I can’t get my head round these latest ones,” says 45-year-old carer Helen Smith, from King’s Park. “We were told to avoid pubs and restaurants and large groups of different households. Now I can meet my own family in a pub or a gym with loads of other people but I can’t privately go round to their house.”
But, emphasise experts, decisions are based on themes that emerged through Test and Protect, Scotland’s tracing system. “The main culprit on this occasion seems to be indoor house gatherings,” says Scotland’s national clinical director, Jason Leitch. “Sometimes, it’s just a few too many people not following the guidance and dropping their guard.
“This is different from the Aberdeen outbreak where the main challenge was cases spreading in hospitality settings, so that’s why the answer there was different.”
For 26-year-old teaching student Yasmin Erginsoy from Dennistoun, the new measures mean slightly different birthday celebrations.
“Selfishly, I was distraught when I found out,” says Erginsoy, who was looking forward to her best friend visiting from London for the first time since the pandemic. “It’s frustrating that we could go for a meal but she wouldn’t be able to come here afterwards – but my birthday isn’t more important than public health.
“I just feel like I can’t make any long-term plans any more.But I know I’m lucky to live alone and be able to choose an extended household.”
While residents are divided on the new measures, officials have emphasised the necessity of following the restrictions.
“We can never forget that this virus has not gone away,” says Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken. “I’d rather Glasgow had not had to move back into even limited restrictions, but it is vital that we move quickly to stop any outbreaks before they get out of hand.
“None of us wants to see our schools or businesses close again and this early intervention will help prevent more drastic measures having to be taken in future.”