American public health officials have stated that all Americans must wear some kind of face covering in public. Yet Donald Trump has openly said that he won’t wear one because, as president, he has to “greet kings, dictators and prime ministers”. The inference being that they might not take him seriously if he added an N95 facemask to his permatan visage.
Trump is undermining public health guidance on the pretence that his need to be taken seriously by world leaders gives him a pass. Yet as I type, one of those world leaders is lying in intensive care.
I’ve never had anything particularly in common with Boris Johnson and most of his politics are alien to me, but the human connection I feel for him right now is very real. I don’t know him, I’m not sure I’d like him very much if I did, but I desperately want him to pull through. His struggle symbolises the fight that we are all in right now.
This virus doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t respect leaders or doctors or people of faith. So there can’t be exceptions to the guidance we’re asked to follow.
When news broke on Saturday night that Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer had been photographed at her holiday cottage in Fife, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. As Lib Dem health spokesperson I’ve worked with Catherine Calderwood for the past four years. She is hardworking, fiercely intelligent and has skippered our response to this pandemic with focus and resolve. But when it emerged that this was the second such trip in as many weeks it was clear she had to go.
Financial ruin, mental collapse
A senior police officer summed it up when he said of the debacle that policing the rules of lockdown “just got a whole lot harder”.
So how’s your lockdown going? For me, life has become a series of new routines. I wake up before 6am (for some reason the pandemic crisis has had a strange effect on my body clock) I make a coffee, stick on the radio and begin to attack my email mountain.
Gone are the everyday requests about traffic calming and aircraft noise. These days my inbox is filled with people on the brink – of unemployment, of financial ruin, or of mental collapse. It’s a sobering start to the day.
After an hour or so I go for my personal, daily exercise. I was running, but I overdid it at the start of lockdown and goosed my back, so I’ve rediscovered the joys of cycling.
Then it’s breakfast with the kids, PE with Joe Wicks in the living room and then everyone settles to school work or work-work until it’s time for 11am coffee with our neighbours.
Now someone has actually complained to my party leader about my coffee mornings (after I posted about them on Twitter). They suggested that I’m breaching lockdown but I’ve checked this out with the National Clinical Director and we’re good. We live in a small six-house cul-de-sac. At eleven we all take seats to the edge of our drives and chat for half an hour or so. We’re never less than three metres away from each other and it’s become a vital and welcome slice of human contact.
Then it’s back to work before I go out on my hot food delivery missions in the afternoon where I volunteer with Scran Academy and the Torphin pub to take free meals to vulnerable people in self isolation. This is always the most humbling part of my day and it reminds me of how lucky I am. I have a garden and a drive. The people I take food to are often alone, in high flats with windows that won’t open. They are also, due to underlying health conditions, the most at risk. Despite all this they’re doing their best to stick to the guidance.
The rules of lockdown exist to keep all of us safe and we must stick to them. That goes for parliamentarians, public health officials and even presidents.
Alex Cole-Hamilton is the Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western.
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