By Iain Gray

LAST weekend was the first of ‘phase one’ of easing the lockdown, which now seems to have been with us forever.

Many of us took the chance to see family face to face, albeit outside and at a distance, for the first time in many weeks.

Others were able to enjoy golf, bowls or fishing at long last, even if the clubhouse remained off limits.

What a pity that some communities had any joy they might have felt in some easing of restrictions ruined by the stupidity of others who abused that progress.

The county’s coastal villages and other beauty spots were swamped with people heading for a day out and simply ignoring the advice not to travel more than five miles for leisure.

Finding car parks and toilets closed, they parked, peed and worse without consideration, then left litter everywhere.

The council has been caught between a rock and a hard place, instructed by the First Minister not to open car parks, and if they do facing accusations of encouraging the flouting of the rules. Yet chaos resulted.

I know the council is discussing with government and COSLA how to respond. Police, traffic wardens and Countryside Rangers did their best but were overwhelmed.

On Monday, the First Minister made clear that if this continues we will go back into lockdown, and the guidance will be given the force of law; but perhaps we should have done that first, and hopefully as we move into other phases the guidance will be better thought out, clearer and unambiguous.

A further sign that we are not yet out of the woods was an inexplicable fall in numbers of Covid-19 tests.

Further phases of leaving lockdown, such as school openings, depend on widespread community testing, and in parliament we continue to get no answers on why this is still not happening.

There is still a real danger that the infection rate will rise again and more people will die unnecessarily.

We all have a part to play. Please do follow the guidance to save lives.