IT has been a frustration throughout the pandemic to see the imposition of coronavirus-related restrictions portrayed by some as a deliberate choice by governments to cause economic damage.

This portrayal has tended to come from leaders and voters with right-wing tendencies.

And the voices of those promoting such a view seem to have grown louder as this awful pandemic has ground on.

However, it is a lamentable point of view on at least two counts.

Crucially, it seems many of those voicing the “destroying the economy” belief at every twist and turn, even in the context of having to wear a face mask on public transport (which surely has no significant impact on gross domestic product), think the pandemic is over. Their tone frequently gives the impression they believe coronavirus is somehow not really a thing anymore, even amid high infection rates and still grim daily death tolls. This is obviously not a good attitude. And it hampers the fight against coronavirus in terms of the need for people to continue making the right choices around face masks and distancing when out and about, following guidelines and also more broadly being sensible and helping us all get through this faster. It is sensible behaviour which will help economic activity by preventing a need for tightening the rules if infection rates can be kept lower. Trying to make a point of not wearing a face mask for the sake of it or refusing to give people space even in situations where there is plenty of room will act in the opposite direction – making tighter restrictions more likely.

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The second key point in terms of the narrative from those claiming restrictions are some kind of wilful choice to damage the economy is that it ignores the most important thing in terms of future prosperity: the rate of vaccine take-up.

Throughout Europe, the debate around restrictions has reached fever pitch again.

The Scottish Government’s floating this month of the idea of extending vaccine passports beyond the likes of nightclubs to the hospitality sector more broadly provoked an exasperated reaction from businesses.

It is easy to understand the frustrations among those in the hospitality sector over the Scottish Government’s decision to look at this. And it is right there should be debate over whether the hospitality sector, hammered for much of the pandemic by restrictions, should face renewed tightening.

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Yesterday, pub and restaurant operators breathed a sigh of relief when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the requirement to show proof of being fully vaccinated would not at this stage be extended to the broader hospitality sector. The Scottish Government also yesterday provided, from December 6, the option of providing a negative lateral flow test, instead of a vaccine passport, for those wishing to visit venues currently covered by the regulation.

Austria is meanwhile moving back into lockdown and is making vaccination against coronavirus compulsory. It has been noted in the context of the surge in infections that Austria’s vaccination rate is relatively low in a European context. This is true (although it is worth noting the degree to which its vaccination rate trails those of some major European countries with better progress is a few percentage points).

There have been violent protests in cities in the Netherlands over the reimposition of coronavirus-related restrictions in that country. Protestors have also taken to the streets in Belgium.

Fears have mounted over a return to lockdown in Germany. Restrictions on unvaccinated people have been put in place there, in areas where hospitalised Covid-19 patients exceed a certain threshold.

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Amid the latest wave of coronavirus across Europe, worries have mounted over a major knock-on effect on international travel.

For anyone hoping for a drama-free run-up to Christmas, things have not gone to plan.

People are understandably exhausted by the protracted coronavirus pandemic, and frustrated.

However, the problem is that weariness and exasperation will not make coronavirus go away.

The thing that will make a big difference is pushing vaccination rates up much higher.

This pandemic has always been about grim arithmetic, in terms of the reproduction or “r” number of the virus and the degrees to which contact has needed to be restricted to prevent hospitals becoming overwhelmed and to limit deaths.

International vaccine success thankfully gave another number to include in the arithmetic. That is the vaccination rate. Thankfully, rapid roll-out of vaccination programmes in Scotland and the rest of the UK and Europe, and in many other countries around the world, has enabled us for many months now to live far more freely than without success in this area.

It has been the vaccine roll-out which has enabled the nearly full reopening of economies, not a decision among a significant portion of the population that they could not be bothered with the pandemic any more so it was over.

Right now, in Scotland and many other countries, the finger is pointed at government every time there is talk of restrictions. And of course it is easy to understand the frustration of, and sympathise with, the huge numbers of businesses and households which have taken the public-health situation seriously and continue to do so but are utterly worn down by the thought of a renewed tightening of measures.

Hospitality businesses, the vast bulk of which have done all the right things and followed the rules diligently even if they have been frustrated with them, desperately need a good festive season. Many will have taken on considerable debt during the long periods of closure.

And, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak having refused to extend the coronavirus job retention scheme beyond September 30, these businesses and those in other sectors do not have a fall-back option in terms of furloughing staff to reduce costs if things take a turn for the worse and there are tighter restrictions again.

It remains a very difficult situation.

The big question for governments, and for others actually interested in the economy rather than in spouting something they have read on social media, is how to get the vaccination rate up.

Sweeping vaccine passport requirements, or restrictions on those who are unvaccinated as in Germany, would seem likely to boost take-up.

This would be for the longer-term good of the economy but in the short term would hit businesses which have done everything right, which is certainly not ideal.

Providing incentives to the unvaccinated, or mandating vaccination as in Austria, are other routes to increasing take-up.

Clearly, there are no easy answers, and we must remember some people are unable to have the Covid vaccine for medical reasons.

However, it would be good as we move forward, to enable proper debate and the correct decisions to be taken, for the myth that it is a choice between restrictions and economic prosperity to be put to bed.

Coronavirus is not going to go away soon, and we will have to live with it. Ongoing vaccine booster jabs for the double-vaccinated in many countries, including the UK, are another hugely positive step forward.

Clearly, what is good both for public health and the economy is to keep the situation under control to the greatest extent possible. Letting things run out of control will have a far greater cost, not just in terms of deaths and serious illness but also from an economic perspective.

And, while fingers are being pointed and anger is being directed at governments, it is crucial to realise the biggest challenge here is vaccine take-up by individuals.

Thankfully, vaccine success has changed the previous arithmetic in an enormously positive way. However, higher take-up levels can make a big difference from here, crucially in terms of limiting deaths but also in enabling businesses to operate as smoothly as possible, with a minimum of uncertainty, and supporting the economy.