South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has commented on the First Minister’s latest Covid-19 statement. Nicola Sturgeon updated MSPs during a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday 29 December).

The First Minister confirmed that limits on numbers able to attend both indoor and outdoor events and restrictions on hospitality including the closure of nightclubs and a requirement for table service and social distancing for venues serving alcohol for consumption on the premises, would all continue in all likelihood until at least 17 January.

Colin Smyth said: “The rise in the number of cases locally is a concern, but it was predicted. It reinforces the urgent need for us all to get vaccinated, take regular lateral flow tests and use common sense when mixing. So with Hogmanay approaching, it’s vital the UK and Scottish Government tackle the current delays in getting results for PCR tests and the problems with supplies of LFT testing kits ordered online as many constituents have been in touch to say they can’t get supplies.

“The evidence shows that although Omicron is highly transmittable, it is a milder variant than others so leads to less illness if you have been vaccinated and therefore less strain on the NHS. But although hospitalisation locally remains low, there are still thousands of people across our region not getting the social care they need and having hospital appointments cancelled including operations they have waited on for months, leaving many in considerable pain. They are the forgotten victims of covid.

“Businesses, especially hospitality, are being hit hard by restrictions at a time of year that would normally have been their busiest, so we need far quicker decisions from Government on how the extra funding will get to those businesses as well as a rethink on the decision to exclude sectors from support such as taxi drivers.

“The biggest issue raised with me is staff shortages due to self-isolation rules. So it is disappointing the Scottish Government have not yet made a decision on the whether everyone in a household really needs to self-isolate if they keep testing negative and whether it’s time to reduce the self-isolating period to 7 or 5 days from 10, which many other countries have done”.

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