It is now 2 weeks since the Health Protection (Cortonavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 came into force (Thur 26 March). Some thoughts and observations following today's FM media briefing. 1/11
First off, Government guidance is not the same as the Regulations (eg guidance is exercise once a day - Regulations say nothing about frequency). It is the job of the Police to enforce the law, not Govt guidance. 2/11
It is however imperative that everyone follows Government guidance - stay at home leaving only for essential purposes. This is of fundamental importance to curtail the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. 3/11
But is it also important that the law is clear about what is and what is not lawful. Police Scotland appear to be taking a fair and proportionate approach in enforcement - engaging, advising and only enforcing in small number of egregious violations. 4/11
it is vital that people take as much care of their physical & mental health as possible & that's why it is right that folk can leave home "to take exercise, either alone or with other members of their household" But what constitutes exercise has become problematic. 6/11
Today, the National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch, told us that "Exercise is exercise, not recreation, not your hobby, you can't use it to go mountain biking, only exercise to stay healthy ...." 7/11
I have also spoken to constituents who've been advised not to sit in the park or not to birdwatch by the Water of Leith. 8/11
There are 2 issues here. First the regulations should perhaps be amended to make clear that people can undertake the activities most suited to maintaining their own physical OR mental health. It is unfair on Police to expect them to assess what is "a reasonable excuse" here. 9/11
Second, mental health is as important (maybe in some cases even more important) than pysical health. Sitting by a river, gazing at the stars, watching birds, sitting on a park bench are all things that sustain health & can all be carried out safely with social distancing. 10/11
The Regulations have never been scrutinised by Parliament (though we approved them). They should be as liberal as is consistent with the public health imperatives. I hope that the 1st review by 16 April takes this into account. 11/11
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