A new COVID-19 lockdown on mainland Scotland for at least the whole of January, announced by the First Minister in the Scottish Parliament today (4 January) , highlights the importance of ramping up the vaccination programme, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

The local MSP also renewed his call for a speeding up in the delivery of support for businesses affected by the extra restrictions announced.

The Scottish Parliament was recalled today (4 January 2020) to be told of the new measures being imposed by the Scottish Government, which includes a legal stay at home order from midnight tonight at least until 1 February, except for “exceptional purposes”. Schools will also stay closed for at least the rest of the month, except for children of key workers where required.

Colin Smyth said, “This new lockdown won’t come as a surprise to anyone but will still be a bitter blow for local people, with the extended school closures particularly challenging for families. People will be dismayed and worn down by the latest news and will rightly ask why a year into the pandemic, we still do not have regular COVID testing for teachers and senior students in our schools. The lack of mass testing for all key workers is just one of the catalogue of failures that means people will feel we are almost back to square one in the fight against COVID.

“It’s increasingly clear that the virus will continue to be out of control until the vaccination programme has been ramped up and rolled out to a lot more people. It’s frustrating that people over 80 still haven’t received letters with details of their vaccination appointment and I know there are many anxious people waiting. In the meantime, I would urge everyone to follow the tough new rules to minimise the virus spread as best we can until we get to that point.

“Although everyone predicted the restrictions on businesses such as hospitality would go on longer than the three weeks promised, Government support for firms is still far too slow. It’s just not good enough that weeks after new help was announced for some sectors, applications never mind payments, haven’t even started for many grants. We need support landing with businesses now if we are to stop the economic crisis in our area getting even worse”

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