Call for different approach on new restrictions

Iain Gray MSP is calling on the First Minister to reconsider her blanket geographic approach to tougher new restrictions, which are set to be based on central belt health board areas, and instead revert to using local authority boundaries to allow for a more targeted approach.

Mr Gray believes this would more fairly represent the risk levels in different areas, with East Lothian currently having a far lower rate of new cases than other authorities within NHS Lothian, and enable less harsh restrictions to be imposed here.

Commenting, Iain Gray MSP said:

“The latest Public Health Scotland data shows that East Lothian has a lower weekly rate of new cases than anywhere else in the NHS Lothian area, significantly so in the case of Edinburgh and West Lothian. However, because NHS boundaries are so large these new restrictions will affect us in the same way as other parts of the Lothians with much higher infection rates. Bizarrely, it also means that some local authority areas with higher rates than us in health boards outside the central belt will not be subject to the same level of harsher restrictions.

“This is a confusing, inconsistent and unfair approach which lacks robust evidence and reasoning. I know many local people, especially those in the hospitality sector, will find it baffling and extremely frustrating. I have written to the First Minister to highlight this and urge her to revert to using local authority rather than NHS boundaries for implementing the new restrictions. This would allow for a more targeted approach and hopefully enable businesses in East Lothian to continue with their recovery rather than facing a further two-week closure.”