While most of the UK is opening up, Glasgow is nearing nine months with some of the strictest Covid restrictions in the country.
People are forbidden from mixing in each other’s homes, pubs are closed for indoor drinking and no-one is allowed to visit or leave the city without good reason.
Rising case rates driven by the Indian variant have seen restrictions remain in Glasgow, while rules ease across the rest of Scotland.
‘People are broken by Covid isolation’
image captionCatrin Kemp founded a creative writing group for new mothers just before the virus arrived in Scotland
When Catrin Kemp heard news that only Glasgow would remain in level three restrictions last week, she found it was “just another disappointment”.
The long-term ban on household mixing in Glasgow has meant loved ones have been unable to share important moments in her family’s life.
“We had no celebrations for my daughter’s first birthday,” Catrin said. “We’ll make a fuss of her next year but those moments are lost – and lots of people would say that now, especially if their family doesn’t live in Glasgow.
“People are going to break rules – they’ll say ‘I’ve done it for too long’. People are broken by Covid, they need to connect.”
With two children of her own, the 42-year-old was concerned about the “double whammy” of the isolation new parents face combined with lockdown rules.
“It became a weekly group because it felt like everyone was so vulnerable,” she said. “New motherhood is such a paradox, it’s lonely and wonderful all at the same time and during Covid those mothers would have felt that even more.”
In leading the group, Catrin heard about family hardships but also saw what she described as “beautiful moments” – mothers breastfeeding and babies falling asleep in their arms.
She spoke of how people have adapted, her own family included – but worries the length of Glasgow’s lockdown may have permanent effects.
“We talk far more to our neighbours, we spend more time on the street or shared back garden talking to anyone. I’ve made new friends from being in parks.
“But I don’t know how I’ll visit another house – I feel institutionalised by Covid.”
A timeline of Glasgow’s lockdown
- 2 September: Visiting restrictions are reintroduced for Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire. People can no longer visit other households indoors unless they are in an extended household or “bubble”
- 9 October: Pubs across the central belt close at 18:00
- 2 November: Scotland’s new levels framework sees Glasgow placed in level three, meaning pubs cannot serve alcohol. People are warned not to travel to areas in higher levels
- 17 November: 11 local authorities including Glasgow told they will move to level four, meaning pubs, cafes and non-essential shops must shut
- 20 November: People in level three or four areas are told they will be breaking the law if they travel outside their own council area
- 11 December: Glasgow and 10 other councils move to level three – shops, pubs and cafes can reopen but alcohol cannot be served
- 26 December: The whole mainland of Scotland moves into level four lockdown after one day of respite on Christmas Day
- March: Various rules are relaxed – care home visiting resumes, schools return and small groups can meet outdoors
- 26 April: The country moves down from level four to level three – cafes, pubs, gyms and remaining non-essential shops reopen while travel restrictions are eased
- 17 May: All councils move to level two restrictions apart from Glasgow and Moray which remain in level three – people are asked not to travel in and out of these areas
- 22 May: Glasgow is the only council area in level three, meaning people can go into pubs, restaurants and cafes – but they can only drink alcohol outside
‘We’ve been to every outdoor space in the city’
image captionAlicia Macrae has found travel restrictions have affected family life
Alicia Macrae says travel restrictions will likely prevent her from visiting her parents in New York for another year – she last saw them in August 2019.
She has taken positive steps to cope with pandemic pressures, such as counselling and giving up alcohol. But local travel restrictions have presented further challenges for her family of five – who live in a tenement flat in the south side of the city.
Having to remain within the council boundaries for so long has meant they have visited most green spaces in the city – and what used to be a pleasure for her children is “almost like punishment” now.
“When things became more restricted again it was like the kids gave up,” she said. “We still manage to go walks but it’s no longer an adventure.”
With all three children of school age, home learning has been a major challenge – particularly for 10-year-old Hector, who is on the autism spectrum.
“He really struggled with going back to school and all the new rules and regulations,” said Alicia. “We got into a rhythm but his anxiety sky-rocketed until about February.
“It’s been a long, hard slog dealing with that – autumn and winter was a dark time for us.”
‘We didn’t know if our bar would ever open’
image captionThe Luchador opened in the south side of the city for the first time on April 26
Nathaniel Hampton, 27, runs The Luchador – a small Latin American-themed bar and restaurant in the southside of Glasgow with a focus on high end cocktails.
It was set to open in November 2020 and owners had recruited staff from all over the UK – but the venue lay empty over winter having never sold a drink as a result of restrictions on hospitality.
Nathaniel said: “There was always a concern we might not open but we kept in mind what our goal was – that kept us all going.
“I’m used to coming to work and having thousands of things to think about, so just being sat in a room with nothing happening was difficult.”
After a spell operating as a takeaway, the venue welcomed its first customers indoors on 26 April – but can only serve its signature drinks to four tables outdoors on a busy main road.
Despite the challenges for the industry in Glasgow, Nathaniel remains optimistic.
He said: “The response we’ve had has been fantastic. For me, seeing the look on someone’s face when they enjoy themselves on night out is one of reasons I’m still here.
“Glasgow has a great reputation all around the world – we’ll be able to survive because of where we are.”
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