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New Covid-19 Public Health Protections Announced

Published:

Categories: Constituency, Coronavirus (COVID-19), Local Business

Stirling Politicians Welcome Measures to Protect Public

Stirling MSP Evelyn Tweed and MP Alyn Smith have welcomed an announcement from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in an update to the Scottish Parliament.

The Omicron Covid-19 variant, now dominant in Scotland, has continued to spread amongst communities across the UK. Additional targeted measures to minimise contacts will come into force for at least three weeks to allow immunity from the accelerated booster vaccine programme to take effect.

All measures will be reviewed after three weeks on Tuesday 11 January at which point protection from booster vaccinations up to 31 December – when the Scottish Government is aiming for 80% of over 18s to have received their booster – will be maximised.

From 05:00 on 27 December, to minimise the risk of widespread transmission, there will be a requirement for one metre physical distancing between adults in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings, including:

  • pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and other settings where food and drink is served for consumption on-site
  • leisure settings including gyms, theatres, cinemas, bingo and snooker halls and bowling alleys
  • museums, galleries and other visitor attractions

Table service will be required in settings where alcohol is served for consumption on the premises.

Physical distancing will not be required in places of worship or on public transport, however existing mitigations for these settings will continue to apply.

In addition, from 05:00 on 26 December, to help ease pressure on emergency services and reduce the risks of transmission in large crowds, attendance at large events will be limited – to 100 people for indoor standing events, to 200 people for indoor seated events, and to 500 people for all outdoor events seated or standing. Organisers of large professional sporting fixtures will have discretion over whether to admit spectators up to these limits. 

Guidance will be updated to advise against indoor activities where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including non-professional adult contact sports, from 26 December.

A package totalling £375 million, including £175 million of additional funding from the Treasury, will be made available to support sectors affected by the latest protective measures to combat Omicron. An update will be provided on the breakdown and allocation of funding as soon as possible.

Ministers will consider how COVID certification could be expanded to cover a wider range of indoor settings to support them remaining open once the booster programme is complete. 

Alyn Smith MP said:

‘This will be a bitter moment for many businesses who were relying on a strong festive season to see them through the leaner new year period. With the limited financial levers at their disposal, the Scottish Government have made a significant commitment to support businesses but we need to see that ambition matched by the UK Chancellor. Support at the beginning of the pandemic helped ease the pain on businesses and organisations – we need the same firepower now.

‘Residents across Stirling will be deeply frustrated at the present situation, but given the heightened transmissibility of Omicron it would be wrong of governments not to act in the interest of public health. Our First Minister was elected to take the difficult decisions required during this extraordinary global pandemic, and that is exactly what the Scottish Government will continue to do. 

‘I urge residents across Stirling to get boosted and vaccinated, test regularly and often, and take sensible precautions including face coverings and ventilation. Together we can get through this.’

Evelyn Tweed MSP said:

‘I fully appreciate this is not the news many wanted to hear at this time of year, but I feel today’s announcement is proportionate given the severe situation presented by Omicron. This Covid-19 variant continues to spread across Scotland, and as ever this is not a choice between protecting health or the economy – if we don’t stem the spread of this virus, both will suffer.

‘I welcome the business support measures so far announced by the Scottish Government, and the initial funding news from the UK Treasury. However it is clear such funding will barely touch the sides in terms of the economic impact across Scotland.

‘The UK Government possesses borrowing powers that our Scottish Parliament are denied – we must see a return of support on the scale of March/April 2020. Otherwise viable businesses should not bear the brunt of this, and we urgently need the UK Chancellor to step up his game. Now is not the time for delay.’

Background

Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe and protecting others – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister’s statement – 21 December 2021 – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The package of business support totals £375 million and includes £100 million announced by the Scottish Government on 14 December 2021, a further £100 million from the Scottish Government’s budget announced by the First Minister today and £175 million made available by the Treasury. The additional £100 million of Scottish Government funding announced today incorporates re-prioritisation of expected consequentials.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Omicron in Scotland – evidence paper – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)