In October, Scotland’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, told the Scottish public they should ‘get their digital Christmas ready’. And, as we head into winter with a new five-tier system in place, both he and the first minister, announced that no restrictions would be eased as Covid-19 cases continued to rise, with Nicola Sturgeon adding, ‘we will not hesitate to introduce additional restrictions if they are needed’.
Yet, in broader society, many are talking about the unintended consequences of lockdown. Public Health Scotland figures show that the number of people referred to see a cancer specialist dropped by a fifth during the first three months of lockdown and that there was a similar drop in the number of people starting their cancer treatment.
Concerns about the impact on mental health are being more widely discussed too, with a study led by the University of Glasgow showing lockdown has had a major impact on wellbeing, particularly on young people and women. And, with unemployment rising and many businesses in dire straits, people are becoming particularly concerned that the initial suggestion of a V-shaped recession and recovery is looking unlikely.
So, are more restrictions the way forward? If we’ve failed to halt the spread of the virus so far, do we need more evidence that lockdowns actually work? Or, is attempting to prevent the spread of the virus causing too many unintended negative consequences? Will the injection of funding help to soften the economic blow, or is it time to re-examine our approach to managing risk and tackling the Covid-19 crisis?
journalist and campaigner
Professor Karol Sikora
University of Buckingham; former director, WHO Cancer Programme
Dr Stuart Waiton
senior lecturer in Sociology and Criminology, Abertay University
CEO, Faces & Voices of Recovery UK
convenor, Academy of Ideas Economy Forum
co-convenor, Scotland Salon