South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has expressed his concern that the recently announced lockdown which will be introduced in England from Thursday could mean there is a reluctance to lower Covid-19 restriction levels in the Scottish Borders, regardless of the fact occurrences of the virus remain low in the region.
Scottish Borders is currently under level 2 restrictions, even though the region is level 0 in three of the Scottish Government’s new criteria, and level 1 in two of the criteria. The decision to place it in level 2 rather than level 1 was described as “finely balanced” by the First Minister last week but because of its proximity to the border, the local MSP now fears the new English lockdown might have an impact on whether or not restriction levels are eased.
Colin Smyth said: “Scottish Borders is currently under level 2 Covid restrictions, even though there is no justification for the region being placed in the category and based on the Scottish Government’s own criteria, the region should be in level 1.
“The hope was that the Borders could move to level 1 quickly but my fear is that due to its proximity to the border, the Scottish Government might be reluctant to lower that level, even if cases in the region drop even further.
“The English lockdown is set to be enforced from Thursday and south of the border will see some very tough measures brought in to stem the rise of coronavirus.
“However, while these measures are undoubtedly necessary, I am concerned that they will mean Scottish Borders will continue to be subjected to level 2 restrictions, or worse, not because of Covid in the area, but because of what is happening over the border and a fear that more people from the north of England may travel into the Scottish Borders because it is more open.
“I think there will be real anger at Boris Johnston’s decision to impose a lockdown so late in the day when he was told by his own scientific advisers and Labour Leader Keir Starmer to do so weeks ago. The English lockdown is likely to last even longer because of that dithering and that could impact on the South of Scotland.
“I will be continuing to keep a close eye on the daily figures in our region and will be pressing the Scottish Government to apply its own rules appropriately and hopefully move to level 1 in the borders as soon as possible.”