Commenting on the announcements from the Scottish Government today (Thursday), South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “The further easing of lockdown measures is a small step but I would still urge people to be cautious as we move into this new phase.

“This terrible virus is still out there, and we must take precautions to keep ourselves and our communities safe. First and foremost, people need to act responsibly, use common sense and remember that this pandemic has killed many people in our region and ultimately saving lives is the most important consideration in everything we do.

“While caution is needed, there will be some concern from many that the First Minister raised expectations but has thwarted them. For example, she previously implied that pubs and restaurants would be able open outdoors but that’s no longer the case this month and while large retail units like IKEA on the outskirts of Edinburgh can re-open, small shopping centres like the Loreburn Centre in Dumfries can’t, except for access to an essential shop like a pharmacy. That really does send mixed messages.

“Our economy has suffered severely due to this virus and while lockdown was essential to control the pandemic, many people in our region are still suffering the economic consequences.

“Ultimately, while moving into phase 2 is a step forward, it will be a long time before our region is back to where it was before the pandemic and until then I will continue to push the Scottish Government for more support for individuals and businesses.”

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