I WANT to again thank everyone doing their best to keep themselves and others safe.

Sadly, last week I attended a funeral, and it was a rather alien affair under the current restrictions. Only a handful of family were able to be there, all in masks and all separated out into our household groups, unable to properly comfort each other.

Under the circumstances it was a lovely tribute to my great uncle Jimmy, but it was very strange nonetheless.

As odd as that experience was for me, it’s nothing compared to the sacrifice those shielding have had to make.

My wee grandad in Lochwinnoch for example, on his own, with the only face-to-face contact being carers watching from a distance making sure he took his tablets, and me with his weekly messages; it felt a bit like a ransom drop-off, having to place it down and step back.

It’s been tough on him, and the thousands like him across Scotland who were shut away for their own safety. And as infection rates rise across Scotland, and in the west of Scotland in particular, my greatest fear is the impact a second shielding order would have on the mental wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens.

I’m also worried about the effect further restrictions could have on our local economy. We’ve already witnessed large national chains closing shops and restaurants, and smaller local businesses are feeling the pressure even more acutely.

I keep hearing about the need for the police to take unequivocal action against individuals breaking the rules, and I have a lot of sympathy with those views. Indeed, I have urged Police Scotland to take a stronger approach in dealing with these selfish people.

But the truth is, neither the police nor the government can fix this. It’s going to take some personal responsibility.

Sure, the council, police, government and others can provide the advice, and even the tools, but we have to help ourselves.

As I alluded to at the outset, the vast majority of people have been amazing throughout this pandemic, and I cannot thank you all enough.

But those few who haven’t paid heed are now risking sending us into another full lockdown if they don’t change their behaviour.

We’ve all relaxed a little as lockdown started easing, but we cannot be complacent.

Personal hygiene, especially hand hygiene, has never been more important, and the rules being set out by the Scottish Government are vital to our survival as a nation.

Together we can, and we will, minimise the opportunity for the virus to spread. I hope, when I write my next column, I will be able to talk about our success as a community.