South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has commented on the publication of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown and warned that people must continue to follow the rules.

The First Minister published the route map on Tuesday, which included plans for more children getting back to school from 15 March, subject to continued progress suppressing the virus. It is hoped this would include P4 to P7 and more senior phase pupils. From 15 March it is also hoped that four people from two households could meet outside.

From 5 April, if virus numbers continue to drop, it is hoped the ‘stay at home’ restriction would be lifted and the rest of Scotland’s pupils would return to school. The beginning of the re-opening of some retail would also take place at this stage.

The First Minister also indicated a move back to the levels system at the end of April which will be confirmed mid-March.

Colin Smyth said: “The past 12 months have been a nightmare for many people, be that due to the virus taking loved ones, the physical and mental health impact of lockdown itself or the financial worries the pandemic has caused.

“As we hear more about lockdown being lifted, we must not forget that until we are all vaccinated, Covid-19 is still out there and we must take precautions to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

“People need to continue to act responsibly, use common sense and remember that this pandemic has killed many people across the south of Scotland and ultimately saving lives is the most important consideration in everything we do. We must continue to follow the rules until we are told it is safe to make changes.

“There was very little detail in the new route map but what we do know is that most businesses will need to remain closed until beyond April, yet there was no announcement of any additional support for those businesses. The UK and Scottish Government need to get their act together and ensure support is in place to get local firms through the next few months, in particular those that have not been eligible for support through other schemes.

“The recently launched discretionary funds administered by councils are already heavily subscribed and being forced to limit pay outs. They need additional funds and I will continue to stand up for the many businesses in my constituency who are struggling.

“There was also no mention of any easing of travel restrictions but what is important is that when this does happen, there is a consistent approach that does not adversely impact on border communities. It would be deeply unfair on the one hand to open up travel across Scotland but still have a travel ban between Scotland and England if the prevalence of the virus is no higher on the other side of the border.

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