Last night, around 17:30 there was a chirpy knock on my door. I opened it to see two police officers standing a pace back from my doorstep.
“Hello, we’re following up a possible Covid breach.”
The officers asked if they could come into the house and stepped off the street into the living room.
I introduced them to my girlfriend who was sitting on the sofa.
“This is my girlfriend. She lives in Edinburgh but we are a part of a… what do you call it, an extended household?”
The first police officer nodded.
“We’ve been in an extended household since September. She lived here with me for a few weeks but then moved to a flat in Edinburgh.”
“Well, that’s perfectly okay,” said the officer.
He explained that they had received an anonymous tip off online from, he said, presumably a neighbour. So he was unable to tell me either who had reported me or get back to the reporter to say that everything was perfectly legal.
“We just wanted to make sure you weren’t holding any wild parties,” said the police officer. “Are there any other individuals who visit here?”
I explained that I have three boys who live part of the time with their mother in a neighbouring town and part of the time with me. Again, the police officer said that this was also permitted.
He took my details and said that the incident would be updated on the computer to say that everything was legal here. I explained that I am also a Scottish Episcopalian priest (I have two degrees in Christian ethics) and so doing the right thing is quite important to me.
“I am really sorry to have bothered you,” said the lead police officer.
“No, it’s fine,” I said. “I would much rather that people were reporting these situations that looked suspicious than having an attitude of letting anything go. Because that is how the virus spreads and the situation is awful just now.”
Before they left, I thanked the police for doing their job.
I do feel reassured that people are reporting suspicious activity and that Police Scotland are following up these reports. This is a matter of public safety.
The trouble with many people’s lives, however, is that they are messy. They are messy and so the simple, headline message of stay home and don’t let anyone into your home doesn’t always neatly fit every case.
I have a girlfriend in another Scottish council area. I have children who live only part of the time with me. I am not looking to bend any rules. I live for the majority of my time on my own. I’m an introvert, so I am quite comfortable in my own company but at times I feel lonely, despite being in touch with friends via text messages and numerous Zoom calls a day at work.
Thankfully, the Scottish Government lockdown guidelines accommodate these messy situations to prevent isolation and I have been careful to read them thoroughly and I take every precaution I can to ensure that I don’t put myself at risk.
I am also an executor for my late mother’s estate. My brother, sister and I are in the slow process of clearing Mum’s flat and selling it. I have been very careful to read through the government guidelines to ensure that I still may visit Mum’s flat, about 100 miles away, to clear it out.
One of the current exceptions to the lockdown is
travel in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for. Travelling for the purposes of undertaking maintenance on a property other than your main residence should not be used as a pretext for a holiday. You should not stay longer than for the length of time required to undertake the necessary work.Exceptions to Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport by Scottish Government
Again, I take every precaution that I can.
I try only to fill up with fuel and buy groceries near to my home so that I am not visiting shops in other Scottish regions.
I wear a face mask and wash my hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when I am visiting my childhood home town.
I don’t socialise. I get in my car at home, I arrive at my Mum’s, go into her flat, go back and forth to my car and then leave and drive home again.
In the last few visits, on only one occasion have I actually seen someone near my mum’s flat, she was wearing a mask and we made sure to stand more than two meters apart.
But for most of the time, I spend it indoors, shielding myself from Coronavirus. I have an inherited kidney condition which puts me more at risk. I do not want to catch this awful virus.
So, as guidelines and common sense permits I will continue to see my girlfriend when I can and I will continue to support my children. But for the rest of the time, I will take every precaution to avoid catching and passing on an illness that has taken thousands and thousands of lives and devastated families across the world.
Stay safe everyone!