We are living in a time of crisis. The COVID-19 virus has changed our lives, and will do so for many months to come.
It was a sombre sitting in Parliament on Tuesday. Sombre but very unified. Only a handful of weeks ago all the political parties were disagreeing over constitutional issues and much more. But differences have been put aside in the face of this unprecedented national and global crisis.
The Cabinet was in the chamber to answer the many questions MSPs had after statements from the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Health ranging from Personal Protection Equipment for healthcare professionals to education closures to business support.
We are all in this together, and we will work together. A common purpose to preserve life and our communities, to care for its vulnerable people, and to keep our health and support services running.
Some people have compared this time to the Second World War and invoked the “war spirit” that our parents and grandparents knew. Shetland’s year-round community spirit is a big part of what makes this a great place to live, but people took proactive action last week in the face of what could be seen coming down the tracks. It felt like Shetland was trying to get ahead of the curve.
Our schools were closed this week due to “operational and resilience” reasons. Some staff and pupils were self-isolating, and some parents voted with their feet by keeping their children home. And now schools across Scotland are to close from today.
The consequences of practically everything closing down is catastrophic for many businesses and charities across the country as well as here. On Sunday I spoke to one local hotelier who observed if it had been said the previous Sunday that the business would close its doors in a week’s time no-one would have believed it. Sadly that is what has happened, albeit temporarily.
We have wall to wall coverage of the Coronavirus, understandably so. It’s important that we follow the latest advice from the government and NHS and know what to do to try and prevent catching and spreading it.
But in watching the news so intently we should be mindful about the impact that may be having on the mental wellbeing not just of ourselves but on those around us. It’s easy to become overwhelmed.
In a bid to help provide current information, I’m updating my Facebook and web site daily but if you’ve any other issue or question don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The Shetland Parliamentary Office is closed now for face to face meetings, but we’re still answering e-mails, calls and letters, and will get back to you as quickly as possible. Staff from the Edinburgh office are working remotely.
As people were leaving Parliament they were saying “good luck” and “take care”. I pass on those heartfelt sentiments to everyone in our community.