One of the worst aspects of the various lockdowns we’ve had has been the restriction on seeing our loved ones.
Most of you have been affected by this.
It has been torture not being able to see and hug family – even if they just live nearby.
So when Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of restrictions it came as a huge relief to many.
There may be bumps along the way but the Prime Minister set out a hopeful and positive vision where we will end up back where we started – with no restrictions.
In contrast, Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement which followed offered no hope. It was a wait and see plan. In fact it wasn’t even a plan.
People just want to know when they will be able to see family and friends.
That’s why I asked the First Minister this week when I will be able to see my mum, who lives just across the Border, and when she will be able to see me.
If I lived in England I would be able to at least some tentative plans for that but I can’t do that and it is frustrating to say the least.
I have never personalised a question to the First Minister before but I thought, why not I am in the same position as thousands of others.
My party leader Douglas Ross put it this way in a fantastic speech today.
He said: “I know that for many people just now, the more pressing and understandable concern is when they will get to see their loved ones again.
“The Scottish Government’s revised framework for lifting lockdown restrictions should have answered these questions, but it didn’t. Last Friday, my party published a paper setting out the key questions the public expected answered by the First Minister this week.
“What the steps out of lockdown and to the end of restrictions are. Whether we will continue with a national or go back to a local approach. In what order restrictions will be removed. How progress with the vaccination programme will affect restrictions going forward. And finally, what is the ‘new normal’ that the Scottish Government is seeking to reach.
“They are not hypothetical questions, they are the real points of clarity that individuals, families and businesses need to allow them to plan for their future. But the First Minister’s route map, if it could even be called that, was incomplete – it only answered two of those points.
“It did set out that we will move to a local approach if possible. But the Scottish Government’s framework poses new questions around ‘local’ potentially not meaning council areas as before but instead larger regions.
“Then it did answer how the vaccination programme will affect restrictions and the answer according to the timeframe set out in this revised framework is, it won’t.
“We have vaccinated over a third of the adult population and all vulnerable groups. A fraction that will only increase.
“With vaccines that have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation from coronavirus by 85% and 94%. Dramatically reducing the threat of this virus to so many people. Yet the First Minister says that this should have no impact on restrictions until the end of April.
“Most importantly this is not a route map. The framework does not show us the steps that we will take to end restrictions. It is at best a holding document; the Scottish people are being told to wait and see what comes next.
“They’ve been given little hope, even less clarity and we don’t have a full plan to get out of this. The Scottish Government cannot even promise that the next framework in mid-March will be a full route map out of restrictions either.
“We do not even know when we will have a plan to end restrictions, let alone when the restrictions themselves will end. We also have no idea in what order restrictions will be lifted after the 26th of April, Will we see multiple households being able to meet indoors before non-essential travel outside of council areas.
“Nicola Sturgeon has said a lot about her not being able to give dates, but she is using this as a straw man. She is not being asked for dates, she’s being asked for a plan.”
We just want some hope. It’s time we were given some.