GALILEO Galilei spent many years under house arrest in the 17th century when he explained how the Earth wasn’t at the centre of the universe `with heavenly bodies orbiting around it.

He was forced to recant his correct theory that the Earth moved around the sun. He was regarded as the “father of modern physics – indeed, of modern science altogether” said Albert Einstein.

Yet almost 400 years after Galileo, we still have people who don’t believe in science. Over the weekend, several hundred people gathered at Holyrood in Edinburgh to protest against lockdown rules and the need to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces.

The “Saving Scotland” event followed a much larger demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square the week before where thousands huddled together like sardines in a tin to “unite for freedom” to “end government lies”.

I struggle to understand how anyone can reject the empiricism, mathematics and logic of science.

In the 21st century, it’s incredible that we still have an unholy alliance of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccination believers, assorted cranks, flatearthers and kooks who believe that Covid-19 is either a hoax or hyped-up excuse to take away their individual freedoms.

I’m all for peaceful protests. I was outside the City Chambers myself last week with colleagues protesting against the council’s funding cuts to Glasgow’s advice sector, but public gatherings have to be safe in a pandemic. There was no social distancing or face coverings at the Holyrood or Trafalgar Square demos.

Just how many people may have spread or contracted Covid-19 at these events we will never know. What we do know is this: it is reckless, selfish and downright stupid to spread a highly contagious killer disease. We all have a reasonable duty of care to other human beings.

You are free to believe anything you want in this world but please don’t jeopardise the health and wellbeing of others. Covid-19 infections have been on the rise in Glasgow from last week – requiring the Scottish Government to issue tougher temporary guidance on lockdown rules.

This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s a public health measure based upon proven scientific evidence designed to prevent people dying and to stop the disease spreading exponentially.

We need leadership in a time of crisis. I’m concerned that some people seem to think we’re home and dry. We aren’t until a safe and effective vaccination is developed and disseminated to people voluntarily – like any other vaccination in recent memory. There is no mandatory vaccination law in the UK, so let’s not spread myths either.

I was disappointed that the leader of Glasgow City Council failed to show leadership over the weekend. Going out to socialise and relax is what everyone needs right now, but if you don’t respect the rules on safe social distancing what message does that give to Glaswegians?

We’ve seen Dominic Cummings and other public figures ignore public health rules with disdain. There cannot be one set of rules for holders of public office and a different set of rules for ordinary citizens. No-one is above the law. Those in public leadership roles have to be beyond reproach and set the very highest standards of behaviour.

Pandemic deniers would do well to turn their attention to the award of some £5.5 billion of public money for private companies to purchase PPE equipment for the UK Government. The bulk of these contracts remain unpublished and many have been awarded without any procurement or tendering.

Contracts worth many millions of pounds have been awarded to companies with no track record in PPE equipment, or companies that were newly formed or with assets worth peanuts in comparison to the value of their government contracts.

This is no conspiracy. It’s a sad fact of how a tiny elite have created supernormal profits during an unprecedented crisis. This is a true national scandal that needs to be uncovered.

The linkage between those in government and the companies awarded PPE contracts may come out in litigation that is currently pending before the courts. Cronyism in Boris Johnson’s Britain is alive and well. Perhaps it’s the only thing flourishing in this annus horribilis.

While a handful of people are making their fortunes during the pandemic there are millions of households and small businesses across the UK on the precipice of financial ruin when the UK Government support schemes come to an end next month.

The Chancellor has made it clear that furlough support for employers and employees and self-employment grants will not be extended beyond October; meanwhile, other European countries are taking the opposite approach. We can’t have a cliffedge end to support while the pandemic remains prevalent.