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Letters / Why don’t we understand what essential travel is?

Covid-19 is here. It has been for some time. It is no secret. The country is suffering from the worldwide pandemic. Thousands of people are dying. Everyone is at risk. The country has gone into lockdown. This includes Shetland. People are being told to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. Quite clear and simple instructions.

So why aren’t we? What don’t we get? Is it too hard to understand? Is the message not clear enough? Why aren’t we taking this serious?

Personally, for the last three weeks I have been keeping myself to myself. I have been told not to work so I am staying at home unless I absolutely have to venture out as advised by our government.

In that time I have been to Tescos twice, Frank Williamsons once and Sound Service Station once. I have been going out for my allocated exercise hour each day. I have survived fine but like everyone I am a bit bored at times and missing normality, however I feel that I’m doing my bit and being sensible and following the ‘lockdown’ guidelines.

For me it’s quite simple, if we take these measures seriously now – the sooner this will be over and we can get back to normal. Which is what everybody surely wants?

But there’s a substantial amount of people in Shetland who aren’t taking this seriously and not following the essential travel guidelines.

I’ve noticed on social media that local Chinese takeaways have re-opened and one actually had to close early due to running out of ingredients because they were so busy. As nice as it must be, surely a takeaway is a luxury and not a necessity?

Think this would class as unnecessary travel? Especially since I know certain people from as far as Voe have driven into town to pick up their order?

When I ventured to Frank Williamsons to get some parts for an urgent electrical problem I was absolutely appalled at what I saw. People loading trolleys with wallpaper, fence paint etc! Now as nice as it must be to catch up on some DIY around the house with all this time on our hands, this isn’t what the lockdown is for.

A trip for wallpaper to spruce up your house isn’t essential and it certainly isn’t essential travel. Buildbase (Hays) have taken the sensible option to close, apart from their coal/fuel department – because heating your home is essential, DIY projects are not.

Certain businesses that sell cakes/fancies are also boasting that they had 40+ deliveries to make in a day. Now come on, I love a fancy more than anyone but it really isn’t essential – I’m not going to die if I don’t have a tiffin square. Driving around Shetland doing 40+deliveries of cakes to people’s houses is just ridiculous!

Like a takeaway, a cake is a luxury not a necessity! Come on people – stop looking for loopholes in what are pretty clear rules to follow.

One form of outside exercise a day for an hour – this doesn’t mean 2/3 walks a day because you have a dog (I have witnessed this first hand) you’re the same as the rest of us and your dog is to be walked once.

We are not allowed to go within a metre or two of people outside our households – this doesn’t mean driving to family or friends houses and thinking your being smart by sitting in their garden a metre or so away having a catch up – that is complete unnecessary travel and again it’s what the government are trying to stop.

I’ve even heard of people in my own family driving to others’ houses to drop off Easter eggs for the bairns, now I don’t want to sound mean but again, driving to someone’s house to drop off chocolate (however good the intention is) is completely unnecessary.

If your business sells a form of food (cakes) it doesn’t give it the same rules as the supermarkets or grocery shops to stay open. These ‘treats’ just seem to be tempting us all into unnecessary travel, from the sellers to the buyers.

In my opinion, all these home deliveries of takeaways or the people going to get them themselves is just unnecessary cars on the road. The government is trying to stop unnecessary travel, however it seems to be worse as ever.

I genuinely don’t want to come across as horrible or mean to anybody or to businesses but I feel as a small community we need to come together and be more sensible!

Limit the trips we make, have a little think before we do things. Businesses need to think ‘is what we sell actually essential?’ And the general public need to think ‘do I really need this or can it wait?’

As I said earlier it is hard not to want to carry on as normal especially since most of us now have a lot of time on our hands – however we simply can’t. We need to just sit and let this pass. The sooner we get back to normal the better.

John Robertson
Lerwick