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Stirling MSP and MP Welcome 03/08 Covid Update from First Minister

Published:

Categories: Coronavirus (COVID-19), Local Business, SNP Scottish Government

Alyn Smith MP and Evelyn Tweed MSP have welcomed an update from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, regarding the move beyond Level 0 in Scotland’s revised Strategic Framework on August 9th.

The First Minister confirmed 90% of over 18 year olds have now had at least one dose of the vaccine, and 72% of over 18 year olds have had both doses. 93% of over 40 year olds have had both doses, and for those over 60, take-up for both doses is as close to 100% as could reasonably be hoped for.

Walk-in and mobile vaccination centres across Scotland are being rolled out to boost take-up in 18-29 year olds. Invitations for vaccines are now going out to 12 to 17 year olds with specific health conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid. 

The move beyond Level 0 will lift most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions, notably on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings. It also means from August 9th, no venues will be legally required to close. 

However, some protections and guidance will remain in force beyond August 9th:

  • Face coverings must still be worn in all the same indoor settings as is the case currently. This will be kept under review, but is likely to be legally mandated for some time to come. 
  • Test & Protect will continue to contact-trace positive cases, and indoor hospitality and similar venues will continue to collect contact details of customers to assist with this process. 
  • Local incident management teams will continue to work on appropriate outbreak control measures, including localised restrictions where necessary. 
  • Home working will also continue to be encouraged where possible. 

The Chief Medical Officer will be writing to those who have been at the highest risk from Covid – who might previously have been asked to shield – to provide advice and information, and to give assurance that they too can return to a much greater degree of normality.

Self-Isolation

From August 9th, an adult identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will no longer be required to automatically self-isolate for 10 days. Instead if someone is double-vaccinated, and 2 weeks have passed since their second dose, and they demonstrate no symptoms, then they should get a PCR test as soon as possible. If this test is negative, self-isolation can end.

If a young person aged 5 to 17 is identified as a close contact, they will need to take a PCR test – but they can end their self-isolation if they test negative. Children under the age of 5 will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test.

Schools and Educational Settings

  • Test and Protect will implement revised guidance for under 18s, including in schools.  This means that the blanket isolation of whole classes will no longer be routine. Instead a more targeted approach will identify close contacts at highest risk of infection. 
  • For up to 6 weeks – subject then to review – there will be a continued requirement for staff to keep at least 1 metre distance from each other and from children and young people while on the school estate. After careful consideration, the current requirements for face coverings in schools for staff and for children aged 12 or over will be retained. 
  • This includes asking young people and staff in secondary schools to wear face coverings during lessons, and while inside school buildings. 
  • The Expert Advisory Sub-Group has also emphasised the importance of good ventilation, and we are therefore strengthening guidance in this regard. Many local authorities have already taken steps to improve ventilation in the school estate, and this work has highlighted the value of CO2 monitors. These assessments will be ongoing over the coming weeks, but are expected to be completed – and necessary improvements identified – by the October half term. The First Minister confirmed the Scottish Government is making available to local authorities an additional £10 million to support this work.
  • Local authorities and schools will ask all secondary pupils, and all school staff, to take a lateral flow test one or two days before they return after the holidays, and then to take tests twice a week after that.
  • Specific guidance on operating beyond Level 0 for universities and colleges has now been published. In addition, students will be encouraged to take a PCR test before any move to term-time accommodation, and then to test twice a week after that.

Evelyn Tweed MSP said:

‘Today’s announcement from our First Minister will come as a great relief to communities and businesses across Stirling, who have still remained impacted by ongoing public health protections; vaccination uptake has allowed us to progress with the further lifting of restrictions.

‘The removal of legal requirements to physically distance will undoubtedly assist businesses, whilst the continuing legal requirement for mask wearing in certain indoor settings is sensible to help guard against future outbreaks. Businesses, communities and frontline workers have all worked extremely hard to get us to this point; let’s keep vigilant and cautious, and look after each other by following good hygiene and public health guidance.’

Alyn Smith MP said:

‘The First Minister put it best herself: declaring victory or freedom from this virus is premature. Covid is still capable of harm, and the risk of mutation and dangerous variants remains. But today’s news of further, cautious steps towards normality are extremely welcome. 

‘I know from my inbox there remains a great deal of anxiety in the wider community about going too fast, or too slow, in the easing of public health restrictions. I feel today strikes a considered balance, maintaining the Scottish Government’s evidence-based approach to tackling this pandemic. 

‘Young people must also step up and get their vaccinations – several drop in centres across Forth Valley has been established, the details of which can be found on the NHS Forth Valley website: https://nhsforthvalley.com/covid/covid-19-vaccination/

Notes:

More information can be found on the Scottish Government’s website: https://www.gov.scot/news/scotland-to-move-beyond-level-0/