CARROT or stick seems to be the focus of the debate.

In light of the low numbers of people sticking to self-isolation when required - just 11%, a recent study found, finish the full 14 days when contacted by NHS contact tracing services - the question of what to about it seems to have settled into a neat binary.

Do we treat them kindly and coax them into a more collegiate response to public health? Or should punishments be used to enforce the necessary behaviours.

As is so often the case, the situation and its solution is more nuanced.

The reasons necessitating self-isolation are quite distinct. It's one thing to go on a sunshine holiday abroad knowing full well that you'll need to quarantine on your return than it is to be contacted out of the blue by test and protect to be told you've come into contact with a person who's tested positive for coronavirus.

The argument could be made that the element of surprise applies in both these situations. You might head off overseas having carefully picked your destination from the Scottish Government's airbridge list and be taken aback by last minute changes.

That was certainly a sympathetic case to advance a few months ago but we're far enough into the pandemic now that surely everyone knows the one certainty now is uncertainty. A holiday abroad is a gamble. You must be prepared to self-isolate for two weeks at the end of it.

These folk are particularly hard to feel sorry for, especially when you're reluctantly adhering to the "don't travel unless it's necessary" guidance and you'd dearly love a jaunt abroad. In fact, forget I said anything about nuance - let's fine these blighters willy nilly and that'll teach them to enjoy themselves.

I jest, of course.

Sub categories of this group are those who travel overseas for necessary trips, say to see family, in which case they should also be prepared for a 14 day quarantine. And then you have the out-and-out self-isolation refuseniks who range from those quietly sneaking out to exercise under the cover of darkness to those who return from a jolly in Dubai and post on Instagram that self-isolation is for mugs.

We also have those who need to self-isolate because they've developed Covid-19 symptoms and tested positive or who have been close contacts of those who have tested positive. This can't be an easy situation and it's surely one we all dread finding ourselves in.

Again, at this stage of the pandemic most people must surely have thought about contingency plans and what they might do should they need to isolate. For a good proportion, the answer to that scenario is "I won't bother". For others, we know we can have food delivered, we can work from home and we have nice surroundings in which to pass the times.

Not everyone will find two weeks indoors easy but it's manageable for most. So why isn't it happening?

In the case of two weeks in isolation following a holiday, some people simply won't see the need. They might last the first week but after seven days of no symptoms and increasing boredom, they may start to think they can bend the rules slightly - that midnight exercise we mentioned; a socially-distanced visit from a friend.

We can't underestimate what an issue it is for inter-generational households or over-crowded homes to self-isolate. When there's very little room at the best of times - or you're desperate to keep the symptomatic family member away from granny - 14 days indoors could be hellish.

When you have a family to feed and a zero hours contract or precarious work that can't be done from home, what do you do if you have no symptoms and can't pay the bills? That choice to give up work - despite the £500 support grant - isn't a straightforward one.

Heavy fines are not the answer in these situations. There's been some suggestion that we change the language around self-isolation and call it "compulsory quarantine" instead. Of course, it isn't compulsory in Scotland: unlike England there's no fine for not self-isolating with symptoms or after test and trace contact.

There is a fine for not quarantining on return from abroad but few people I've spoken to have been contacted during their 14 day period at home, never mind been fined for any breaches. Australian hotel quarantine has had highly mixed results; Canadian police do regular checks on returned travellers but would Police Scotland have the resources?

It's hard to underestimate the impact of those in a position of responsibility flagrantly breaking the rules without consequence.

When self-isolation causes financial strain, there must be adequate supports in place to help those in difficult socio-economic situations comply. When it is a

The most vital step is encouraging goodwill - encouraging those who can to support those in self-isolation, harking back to the early days of the crisis when legions of volunteers organised help for their neighbours.

There must be compliance from those in the public eye. The government must ensure a fully functioning test and trace system so that citizens know anything they do now will lead to a more positive end.

Spurs and sugar cubes can be used to urge compliance. Certainly there's no one fix for a problem with complex causes.

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