SCOTLAND may currently have the look and feel of the mythical land of Narnia but as our frozen nation shivers anxiously in Covid lockdown under an ever-thickening blanket of snow and ice, I am full of fear and trepidation that this year’s spring will never be sprung, and that our long-awaited summer will never shine, but instead be cold, dark, and foreboding.

Always Winter, Never Christmas, to quote Lucy from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Especially for our beleaguered airports and airline industries, which have been on terminal life support since the pandemic's perpetual winter blew in last March.

Desperate for a little hope, warmth, and succour, from both the UK and Scottish Governments, they were dealt another crushing blow to any aspirations they had of quickly taking off. In his latest chaotic bid to drive down infection rates and prevent overseas mutant variants of coronavirus from reaching these icy shores, health secretary Matt Hancock, Westminster’s very own Mr Tumnus, chillingly announced that from this Monday international travellers arriving from 30 “red” list countries would be rounded up and forced to pay a whopping £1750 to self-isolate for 10 days in in one of the government’s requisitioned “quarantine hotels”, with additional supplements for each person with which they’re travelling.

A like it or lump it, rip-off welcome to the UK, a one-way ticket where going home, seeing family, picking up the pet, stopping off for supplies or even paying for an upgrade and choosing your room is not an option.

He also warned that there would fines of £1,000 for any arrivals who had failed to pre-book their room, £2,000 for reoffenders and that a 10-year jail sentence awaited anyone caught trying to flout these ridiculous restrictions. Disproportionate sentencing to say the least, even some convicted terrorists get less.

Of course, not to be undone, the Scottish Government’s grim and frosty Transport Secretary Michael Matheson went further, by taking a more extreme liberty with our liberties. Announcing that all in-bound arrivals at Scotland’s barely functioning airports, from all overseas destinations, which includes Scots and their families returning from holiday would also be forced to spend £1750 self-isolating, at one of their “quarantine” hotels, again for 10 days. Though he was unable to explain how the government intended to catch and quarantine non-red list arrivals who flew into other UK airports, and then crossed the border into Scotland, or what the penalties would be for those caught flouting the rules. Cryo-frozen into ice statues and put outside the Scottish Parliament?

Mr Matheson said: "We need a comprehensive approach to restricting international travel.” I agree but hamstringing the airlines and destroying the travel industry isn’t the way forward. Any such approach should have been put in place at the beginning of this crisis. Not a year after this noxious horse has well and truly bolted, charged across the country, wreaking havoc on our communities and all but destroyed the economy. And especially not at a time when the infection rates have peaked and are on the decline, and we have a proven cure, rolling out across the UK in an unprecedented history making mass vaccination program.

It’s a lifting of restrictions and easing of lockdown that’s desperately required not another blizzard of bad news. Willie Macleod, executive director of UK Hospitality, Scotland hit the nail on the head, when he says: "We may be missing an opportunity in the UK by not introducing Covid-19 vaccine 'passports'. It appears that it would have been a simple exercise to issue an official confirmation of date, time and location of vaccinations which would be accepted and recognised by employers, transport carriers and relevant UK and international authorities.'

Another golden opportunity missed, another costly failure from governments that are now crippled by caution and frozen with fear. And with no legendary lion, Aslan on hand to roar new life and hope into our desolate landscape, our bleak Covid age of winter looks set to continue.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.