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Coronavirus / ‘Pubs opened before youth clubs’

Responding to the weekend’s gathering in Lerwick, one of Shetland’s members of the Scottish youth parliament says young people have no choice but to meet outside

YOUNG people have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 restrictions and many feel that very little has been done by governments in response to their needs and aspirations.

That is the view of Jonathan Dorrat, one of Shetland’s two members of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

The young politician was responding to a statement by local police who said they were required to disperse a group of around 100 youths in Lerwick town centre in the early hours of Sunday morning, many heavily intoxicated with alcohol, and the majority under 16 years old.

Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament Jonathan Dorrat. Photo: Shetland News

Dorrat said: “The last few months have been difficult for everyone and it is clear that young people have been hit hard.

“Some losing their part-time and after school jobs, not being able to sit exams as well as having all social events cancelled and not seeing family and friends.

“Research shows us that young people are worried that their futures will be impacted by Covid-19.”

With arts venues, youth clubs and leisure centres closed, young people have no choice but to meet outside, Dorrat continued.

“Now that schools have returned and young people are seeing friends for the first time in months there is an expectation they will meet up.

“With most venues like Clickimin, Islesburgh and Mareel either closed or operating differently, young people have very little option other than to meet up outside.

“As reported on Saturday, there was a large gathering of young people in the centre of Lerwick. I don’t condone underage drinking, but consideration must be given to where young people can go on the weekends.”

Adults can go to pubs as hospitality as open, however only outdoor youth work is allowed and many facilities are still closed.

“This means young people have nothing to entertain then and feel left out of the government route map as nothing is on for them,” Dorrat said. “Opening pubs has been permitted before youth centres.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Government says there is evidence that Covid-19 is spreading quicker among young people. Figures show that statistically more young people test positive for Covid-19 than other age groups, though fewer fall ill.

Dorrat said: “Young people are aware that they are less likely to be ill with Covid-19, however I want to remind young people that they can still pass on the virus to their family members, so to keep the community safe outside of school all gatherings should adhere to the government guidelines.”

He added that many young people were working hard as key workers on the frontline and should therefore be celebrated.