South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for assurances that the Scottish Government’s planned Covid-19 ‘test and protect’ system will be compatible with systems and processes south of the border.
The local MSP highlighted specific issues relating to Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders where in normal times, around 4,000 people in Dumfries and Galloway alone travel to Cumbria for work, education, health and leisure.
Speaking during a question session in the Scottish Parliament after the First Minister set out Scotland’s phased move out of lockdown, Colin Smyth said: “The First Minister said that the proposed test and protect system will be available in every Scottish health board from the end of the month.
“She knows that many of my constituents cross the border every day for work, education, health and leisure. The numbers will rise in the days and weeks ahead.
“Can she give us an assurance that any interaction that my constituents have with people who live in the north of England who test positive for Covid-19 will be picked up by the test and protect system? Will interactions with people from England who work in Scotland also be picked up, and will that include the technological solutions, meaning that systems and processes on both sides of the border are compatible?”
Speaking after, Colin Smyth said: “First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did not give me the assurances I was looking for in her answer to parliament.
“While she rightly said that public health experts are used to dealing with infections which cross borders, I am still looking for some concrete plans about how the Scottish Government’s test and protect system is going to marry up with the UK Government’s tracing programmes.
“There are serious practical issues for the thousands of people who live in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders but who travel to Cumbria and Northumberland on a regular basis for work, education, health and leisure.
“We must ensure that there is collaboration and integration on this issue as a matter of urgency, as more and more people in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway return to work in Northumberland and Cumbria.”