The Scottish Borders is facing a “triple whammy” after the region was moved into tier 4 COVID restrictions this week, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
The change means non-essential retail and hospitality have been closed and additional travel restrictions have been imposed.
The region has not only followed the rest of mainland Scotland in being placed into the lockdown measures on Boxing Day, despite being at the lowest current level of tier 1 restrictions but there are fears the lockdown may last longer than three weeks due to the impact of the easing of restrictions at Christmas and concerns have been raised that some business support won’t be paid until well into next year.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The move back into near lockdown will be tough for the Borders given the scale of the change. Local people worked hard to follow the rules and as a result restrictions fell to tier 1 but that has been taken away overnight and along with other low prevalence areas, the Borders has faced the biggest jump in restrictions”.
“The decision by the Scottish Government to ease the rules over Christmas in the way they did, even in areas with a high prevalence of the virus, will result in more cases and therefore I fear the claim that this lockdown is just for three weeks may prove to be premature”.
“Help for local businesses affected by the restrictions has also been too slow, with the Government admitting that some support may not be paid for months with applications for some scheme not even open yet. It’s all very well for the Government to announce funding but that needs to land in businesses bank accounts now, not in the spring”
“It really is a triple whammy for the Borders with a big jump in restrictions, a fear they may last longer than announced and the lack of immediate support for many local businesses”.
“I would urge people to keep sticking to the tough new rules to minimise the virus spread, but I appreciate there is a growing feeling that the virus won’t ever be under control until the vaccination programme has been rolled out to far more people and we are still a few months away from that it seems”.