WHEN the National asked me to write about an Aberdeen Tory councillor’s ludicrous suggestion that Glasgow has avoided a full local lockdown because Glaswegians voted Yes, I did a wee bit of reading on the subject.

Much to my surprise, when I read the story on one news website, I saw one of my own tweets which the councillor in question had responded to.

I had jokingly tweeted: "Remember when the Tories tried to say Nicola Sturgeon was picking on Aberdeen and wouldn’t introduce a lockdown in Glasgow?"

I tweeted this because I remembered thinking at the time how silly it was to suggest that the Aberdeen lockdown had been imposed for political reasons, rather than because of a sharp increase in infections. It is even sillier now.

READ MORE: Tory slammed for claim Glasgow 'escaped' full lockdown as it's a 'Yes city'

Of course it is true that the restrictions that have been brought in for the greater Glasgow area are not the same as the restrictions that were imposed on Aberdeen. But that has nothing to do with how their residents voted in the independence referendum in 2014!

The restrictions are different because the evidence from contact tracing indicates that the way the virus is being transmitted is different. In Aberdeen, the clusters that were identified centred on hospitality settings like pubs and restaurants. In the greater Glasgow area, however, it appears that the virus is mainly being transmitted through household contacts.

This doesn’t just mean big house parties, the kind that the police might get called to – though it is worth remembering that the police do have new powers to break up house parties. It could also mean smaller family or social gatherings.

Some people have questioned how the authorities can know that the virus is being transmitted in this way. It may not be able to determine exactly how the virus was transmitted in every single case but contact tracing can identify how it has moved through groups of people who are not members of the same household but are connected by transmission.

Understanding how the virus has moved from person to person helps determine the response when there is a significant spike in cases. This is why the new restrictions in greater Glasgow focus on household contacts rather than on pubs and restaurants. It is household contacts driving the spread.

I can understand why telling folk they can’t go to their friend’s house but they can meet them in the pub seems odd. I’ve seen quite a few people saying they feel safer going to a pal’s house rather than to a pub or restaurant, where they will be surrounded by people they don’t know. But is that feeling based on an accurate assessment of risk?

Hospitality settings will have physical distancing measures in place, after all, and generally have ventilation systems, as well as staff keeping an eye on things. These are controlled environments. Of course, if venues become overcrowded and people ignore physical distancing customers become less safe. But if everyone complies with guidance the risk of transmission is greatly reduced.

When folk gather in a house, however, perhaps the risk can be exacerbated by the very fact that they do feel safe. They may forget to pay attention to physical distancing and hygiene because they aren’t in an environment where they are being prompted to by signs on the walls and hand sanitiser stations at the front door.

I think we can all understand just how easy it is to let Covid slip to the back of your mind when you are relaxing with friends or family, and it seems weird to think that we might have to risk assess having folk round to our house to ensure that everyone stays safe. But, in this extremely weird year, perhaps it is the kind of thing we all need to think about more if we are to avoid further spikes.

I very much hope the steps that have been taken in Glasgow will halt the spread of the virus and that there will be no need to take any further action. I don’t minimise the impact this is having on families - for some people it will be very distressing - but early intervention could prevent more stringent measures having to be taken further down the line.

And I do hope that the Tory councillor who made these very silly suggestions manages to retrieve his common sense from wherever he has mislaid it. He will be doing us all a favour if he does.