John Swinney: Here are the reasons Edinburgh isn't moving into Level 2

Deputy first minister John Swinney has responded to Edinburgh council leader Adam McVey’s call for Edinburgh to move down to level two, saying that a recent rise of Covid cases just before Christmas was a ‘cause for concern’.

The education secretary responds to Cllr Adam McVey's call for Edinburgh to move into level two lockdown restrictions (photo: Colin Fisher).
The education secretary responds to Cllr Adam McVey's call for Edinburgh to move into level two lockdown restrictions (photo: Colin Fisher).

In a letter to Cllr McVey, Mr Swinney outlined why the Scottish Government decided to keep Edinburgh in level three lockdown restrictions despite many calls from locals and politicians to move the Capital down to level two.

Explaining the government’s reasons, Mr Swinney said: “ A move to Level 2 in Edinburgh would mean opening up significantly more services in our second biggest city in the two weeks before Christmas. So we wanted to have as much confidence as possible that the situation is as stable as possible before we make that move.

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“In that context, the recent rise in cases, while relatively slight, was a cause for concern when seen against the backdrop of a much slower reduction in cases and test positivity for Edinburgh over the last two weeks than for Scotland as a whole.

"By the same token, while Scotland as a whole has seen declining test positivity, the test positivity for Edinburgh is rising. So, weighing the data in the wider context, we decided it was prudent to keep Edinburgh in Level 3 this week, monitor the position closely, and to review the level again next week.”

Mr Swinney also added that suppressing the prevalence of the virus to a very low level before Christmas is “key to avoiding the need for more restrictive protective measures in the New Year and ensuring that the NHS does not become overwhelmed by COVID-19 in January”.

He concluded that he understood the decision to keep Edinburgh in level three has disappointed Cllr McVey and his constituents but hopes the council leader will understand “the basis on which it was made and the seriousness with which we take our responsibilities.”

Councillors will debate on whether to carry the motion at their full council meeting tomorrow.

You can read Mr Swinney’s letter in full here.

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