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 5 January).

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.

However, weeks after Wales, Northern Ireland and England reduced the self-isolating period to seven days from ten days if people test negative and have no symptoms, Scotland will come into line at midnight tonight with the rest of the UK.

In addition close contacts of positive cases, including household contacts, who are under 18 years or older than that if fully vaccinated (two doses of a vaccine and a booster), the requirement to self-isolate will be replaced by the requirement to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days. Those older than 18 who are not fully vaccinated will still be asked to isolate for 10 days and be asked to take a PCR test.

A further change will mean that if people do not have symptoms and get a positive result using a lateral flow test, they will no longer have to book a PCR test, but instead should immediately self-isolate and report your result online.

Colin Smyth said: “The continuing rise in cases and subsequent self-isolation this leads to is putting the NHS, other public services and businesses under pressure, which highlights just why it is so important for us to get vaccinated, take regular lateral flow tests, wear a face covering when in shops and on public transport and use common sense when mixing.

“However, there is growing frustration over the Scottish Government’s handling of the latest wave. There is no explanation why it took them much longer than every other parts of the UK to work out that the self-isolating period could have been less than 10 days and people are still having difficulty booking PCR tests and getting LFT tests online and that urgently needs to be tackled.

“The Scottish and UK Government have to work better together in the national interest at this time of crisis by urgently reviewing the level of support they provide people and businesses”.

“The UK Government needs to  increase the level of statutory sick pay and consider a new furlough scheme for businesses shut down, so we don’t have firms going bust. The Scottish Government also needs to stop holding onto funding, and get it out to businesses. Support has eventually been expanded to some sectors who had missed out before now such as taxi drivers and hairdressers but the Scottish Government are still holding onto millions of pounds that are unallocated at a time businesses are struggling.

“This is a time of anxiety for people worried about their lives and livelihoods, and both our Governments need to step up to the mark to support them.”

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