McArthur seeks clarity on restrictions for islands

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, is seeking clarity on whether the islands could be permitted to adopt slightly different restrictions to mainland Scotland on social gatherings following the next review by the Scottish Government.

On Tuesday, the First Minister announced nation-wide restrictions on social gatherings to help control and reduce the spread of the Covid-19 following a recent increase in outbreaks of cases.

However, the National Clinical Director, Prof Jason Leitch subsequently acknowledged in media interviews that a more localised approach might be possible in the three main island authority areas, where the number of confirmed cases has been and remains significantly lower.

Mr McArthur has sought a meeting with the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman and Prof Leitch to consider how a more tailored approach for the islands might work in practice, including any potential impact on travel to and from the islands.  

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“The recent decision by both the Scottish and UK Governments to enforce tighter restrictions on social gatherings is understandable given that confirmed cases are increasing across the country. 

“Nevertheless, I am concerned that these moves are seen by many constituents as excessive in light of local circumstances. 

“The National Clinical Director has acknowledged that a more localised approach in our islands could be possible.  The Health Secretary has also confirmed to me that a review of proposed options will take place over the next three weeks.

“Beatrice Wishart and I will look to take up Jeane Freeman’s offer to meet with her and Prof Leitch in the coming days to discuss this issue in more detail.  I know that all three island authorities support such a move and will be keen to be involved.

“Ultimately, any localised approach will still need to have public safety at its heart. However, I believe this can be achieved, while also acknowledging that tighter lockdown restrictions also have implications for people’s mental and physical health”.

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