Weekly Poll – Easing of COVID restrictions
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 12 July 2021, we asked a question about easing of COVID restrictions.
Question 1. Do you agree with the time frame for easing lockdown restrictions in Scotland?
- YES – 27% (42 respondents)
- NO – 73% (112 respondents)
We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
COVID-19 Cases and Variants
On 19 July, Scotland moved to Level 0 restrictions, the closest to ‘normal’ of all four levels in the Scottish Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. A portion of respondents believed that restrictions were being eased too quickly at a time when COVID-19 infection rates had recently increased. There were also concerns about the threat posed by the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than the original strain of the virus.
“It is way too early to be moving to Level 0 and beyond as COVID cases are on the rise and there are still too many people unvaccinated.”
“With rising COVID rates just now what is it going to be like when restrictions are lifted?”
“Given the recent rise in infection things should be eased at a slower pace.”
“It is not the right time with a high number of cases at the moment. I understand that people want to get back to normal but as soon as restrictions are lifted, we’re going to see further outbreaks and more waves of any variant.”
“I think the rise in cases is down to the easing of restrictions and I feel we will see them enforced again at a later date.”
People at High Risk
The easing of restrictions is particularly concerning for people who were in the shielding category, who are at the highest risk from COVID-19. This includes people with compromised immunity who are unable to get vaccinated. At Disability Equality Scotland, we recently co-signed an open letter with more than 80 disabled people, unpaid carers and equalities groups to ask for clarification on what measures will be implemented to ensure disabled people remain safe when restrictions are eased.
“As a shielding person lifting restrictions makes me really nervous especially with the rapidly increasing COVID-19 numbers. I have only been going out once a week for groceries and for the shortest time possible. I have not gone to a restaurant, bar or even in town shopping.”
“The rise in daily cases is shouting out to hold and be patient. We are going to end up in another lockdown and some disabled people and their unpaid carers are still shielding and have been since March 2020. Disabled people and their unpaid carers are being totally left behind and sacrificed.”
“Infection rate isn’t slowing; the most vulnerable can’t be vaccinated. Don’t hang us out to dry. I’m concerned this is the previously discredited ‘herd immunity’ by another name.”
“The guidelines that have been given don’t give much thought to those who are in the higher risk group for the virus. What are they meant to do, shield or isolate for the rest of their lives?”
“As a shielder I am very wary of groups or restricted spaces in shops, transport etc. We are the ones that had the most restrictions and as a result are very apprehensive about going back to normal.”
“I understand how fearful people who cannot be vaccinated must be and don’t know how that can be alleviated. There will undoubtedly end up being a sector of society that is still restricted just to stay safe. How this will be done without discrimination is unknown.”
Precautions and Mitigations
A portion of respondents were supportive of various precautions and mitigations that will remain in place whilst COVID-19 restrictions are eased, and more people are vaccinated. This includes the decision for face coverings to remain a legal requirement in certain enclosed spaces such as shops and public transport.
“If the government ease restrictions, then I strongly believe we should all keep our masks on. Plus keeping the 2-metre distance as well.”
“The fact that the First Minister has said that face coverings will remain in place “for some time to come” gives me hope because without them we are really in trouble.”
“I think easing restrictions with some mitigation is correct. The ongoing effect that restrictions are having on issues other than COVID such as mental health, support for carers and NHS treatments for non-COVID conditions is extreme and trying to strike a balance is almost impossible.”
“I agree with the timing and degree of relaxation at this stage, but this must be a “watching brief” with regard to the data and the number of infections and hospitalisations and further restrictions may need to be imposed at a later date.”
“Yes, it is time to ease things slowly but keeping face coverings is a good idea till they see a drop of infections till more people are vaccinated.”
One respondent highlighted their concerns of the continued use of face coverings for people with deafness. Face coverings can muffle the sound of voices and prevent people from lipreading.
“As a person affected by deafness the mitigations for COVID-19 have made life especially challenging on a daily basis. I recognise that others faced with shielding etc also have challenges, however it would be good if new guidance did more to highlight exemptions for communication purposes.”
There was recognition from a portion of respondents on the importance of the vaccine rollout, which has resulted in a reduction of hospital admissions.
“The majority, that can, are now vaccinated so it’s time to learn to live with COVID. This is not going away anytime soon and the hospital admission rate has fallen despite the positive results rising which suggests that the vaccine programme is working.”
“We cannot continue to live in fear of COVID instead we need to work a way to live with it for everyone’s sake.”
“I do agree that the time is right now for the easing of restrictions. The vaccine role out is very successful.”
Easing Restrictions Sooner
Some respondents believed that restrictions in Scotland should be eased quicker. Comparisons were made with England, where all major COVID restrictions were eased on 19 July, on what some dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.
“Unlock us like England and give everyone the chance to build up their immune system before the next COVID strain hits us.”
“All restrictions should be lifted, including the muzzles.”
“We should be in line with England and not delayed any further at the say so of Nicola Sturgeon.”
In contrast, a portion of respondents reflected on the timeline for easing restrictions in comparison to England and were glad that a more cautious approach is being implemented in Scotland.
“While it’s scary that restrictions are beginning to ease, I have to compare the Scottish Government’s plans to England which to be frank absolutely terrify me.”
“Much better than what is happening in England, and I know we need to open up more but still a little nervous. It’s so much in one go despite the rising case numbers.”
“At least it is not as fast as England. I very much fear that the virus will become rampant.”
There was a mixed response from respondents with regards to the timeline for easing COVID-19 restrictions. Some respondents believed that restrictions were being lifted too quickly, at a point where Scotland has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, as well as the threat of the Delta variant. This was particularly concerning from people who had been shielding and those are unable to be vaccinated. Some respondents were supportive of the various precautions and mitigations that will remain in place whilst restrictions are eased, such as the mandatory wearing of face coverings. A portion of respondents believed that restrictions should have been eased quicker, in line with England. In contrast, some respondents were relieved that a more cautious approach is being followed in Scotland.