Scottish Greens back extra caution on Christmas

Scottish Greens have backed the tightening of restrictions over Christmas announced by the First Minister in the face of a new strain of COVID-19.

Following a similar announcement by the Prime Minister for England, Nicola Sturgeon has said a planned relaxation of restrictions for five days will now be limited to Christmas day only, with three weeks of level Four restrictions across mainland Scotland to follow.

Scottish Greens have reiterated the call to close schools early so they do not open next week.

Commenting, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “It’s clear that the increase in cases linked to a new strain are very concerning indeed. For weeks Scottish Greens have been raising the concerns of public health experts that the planned relaxation of restrictions would lead to a significant rise in infections of COVID-19, so in the face of an even more transmissible strain this extra caution from the First Minister is clearly necessary.

“If this is going to work, we need to step up the support for people self-isolating, especially for those on insecure income. This means widening the criteria for receiving financial support and offering accommodation where it is urgently needed.

"The staggered school return is also a sensible approach, one we had already been advocating. But it must be accompanied by the regular, routine COVID testing in schools which Parliament has voted for and which teachers are demanding, and clinically vulnerable staff must not be forced to put their lives on the line by coming into schools.

“Many people will be baffled that the Government is still insisting on opening schools for two days this week, and I would urge local authorities to close early to keep staff, pupils and communities safe.

“Pressures on the NHS are already on the rise, as it deals with winter workload and the roll out of the vaccine. The last thing we all need is for a surge in cases, just as we can see light at the end of the tunnel, The last thing we all need is a surge in cases, just as we can see light at the end of the tunnel, looking forward to gatherings of friends and family when this is all over.”