Lockdown easing plan dependent on testing and tracing

Rachael Hamilton MSP has welcomed the next steps in the first phase of easing lockdown restrictions in Scotland, but has warned the Scottish Government must take action on tracing and testing.


Nicola Sturgeon revealed the four-stage plan today, which will see restrictions gradually lifted from the end of next week.


However, Rachael Hamilton MSP believes that every phase of that exit will only be dependent on an adequate testing system being in place.


Since the outbreak, the Scottish Government has been severely criticised for not testing enough people, not using capacity properly, and not getting the tests out to the people who need them most.


At the weekend, it was reported that not a single contact tracer had been recruited, despite promises to hire 2000 by the end of the month.


Those contact tracers will be key to the SNP’s test, trace and isolate scheme, which the lockdown exit relies upon.


The Borders MSP had put pressure on the Scottish Government repeatedly to reopen garden centres and allow some outdoor activities, such as fishing and golfing.


It came after the Scottish Government’s position on keeping Scottish garden centres became ‘illogical’ as DIY superstores and supermarkets were selling bedding plants.


Mrs Hamilton was glad to see restrictions lifted in certain areas, in line with the UK approach, and called on the Scottish government to ‘get to grips’ with contact tracing and increased testing.


Further to that, she wants clarity on the sectoral approach, after it was announced guidance will be published in the coming days for 14 sectoral work streams.


Rachael Hamilton MSP said:


“Today’s announcement shows that the UK-wide approach is working as the majority of what Nicola Sturgeon has announced, was already successfully implemented in England.


“I am glad to see Scotland finally following suit and reopening garden centres and allowing outdoor sports and activities.


“However, if this is to be successful in Scotland, we need effective contact tracing and testing to be taking place.


“The pressure that myself and Scottish Conservative colleagues put on the Scottish Government surrounding garden centres has paid off, and I am pleased they have reversed the illogical position on their closure.


“I want to see greater clarity on sectoral approaches. The construction industry must be able to restart outdoor work.


“The hospitality and services industries must be given clear steps on how best to proceed with opening up again.


“Car showrooms, hairdressers and cafes are just some of the examples who require clear and concise guidance on the next steps around reopening with social distancing in place.


“Thank you to all my constituents who have adhered to the advice and continue to do so, the hard work means we can now move to the next phase”.