McArthur urges First Minister to reassess indoor meeting rules for Orkney

During today’s debate in the Scottish Parliament on Scotland’s Strategic Framework for Tackling Covid, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur urged the First Minister to reconsider the decision to continue with restrictions on small, indoor gatherings in areas, such as Orkney.

The First Minister confirmed that Orkney was likely to be in Level 1 of the new ‘tiered’ system, but despite that, restrictions on indoor gatherings would remain in place.

Orkney’s MSP highlighted the fact that in rural and island areas, the option of meeting in venues and outside is going to become increasingly problematic during the winter months.

Mr McArthur noted that such restrictions risked leading to a loss of public confidence, and potentially public compliance.  

The First Minister said she recognised the issue, and on that basis hoped that any such requirements would be a “short term temporary change”.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“The Scottish Government’s framework offers the chance to tailor restrictions across the country depending on levels of risk.

“Orkney looks set to be placed in level one, which should allow limited gatherings both indoors as well as outdoors. However, the First Minister has now confirmed that the ban on meeting indoors with other households will remain in place, even in level one areas.

“This will come as a real blow to many who had been hoping for some respite.  Indeed, as we head into winter, expecting people to meet outdoors is increasingly unrealistic. 

“I recognise the First Minister attempt to reassure islanders that this restriction would be kept under review and lifted as soon as possible. However, for the sake of public confidence and compliance, I would urge Nicola Sturgeon to look again at this aspect of the government’s approach”.

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