Scotland's new 'strategic approach' to battling Covid: How will it work?
Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled a broad overview of the Scottish Government’s proposed “strategic approach” to battling coronavirus in the months ahead as the second wave continues to sweep the country.
The temporary restrictions, which have brought about the closure of pubs and clubs across Scotland, are due to expire on 26 October, but the First Minister said this will be replaced by a new strategy to battling the pandemic. A number of strands to this approach have been set out by the SNP leader. These were:
Scotland will follow the system of different levels of restriction implemented in England. Down south, every area is classified as being on medium, high or very high alert.
But the Scottish approach is likely to see a tougher package of measures at the highest level three, or even a fourth tier of heightened measures.
The First Minister said: "The tiered approach to intervention will clearly be a central part of the new strategic framework."
There have been concerns about compliance, particularly around rules on meeting up amid claims that too many Scots are not adhering to the ban on entering other households or the "rule of six”.
Ministers have pledged to address this. Action will also be undertaken to ensure people to self-isolate when they are asked to do so by public health authorities.
Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland have been angered by the sudden fortnight-long closure imposed from last weekend. The new strategy will focus on setting out clear support made available in future for firms in this situation. Industry leaders have appealed for more advanced notice for future restrictions and speedier access to support.
Advice on support for Scots on low incomes will be detailed in the new strategy amid concerns the impact of the Covid restrictions can have an "especially harsh" effect to these groups. This is believed to be the key factor discouraging many from self-isolating when they develop symptoms or are asked to do so.
Future projections of testing and how it can be "most effectively used" to suppress the virus throughout the winter months will also be made clear as part of the new strategy. As case numbers continue to rise, the national “Test and Protect” strategy will play an increasingly vital role in identify key hot-spots and action needed.
Opposition party leaders have been invited to take part in talks with Ms Sturgeon and scientific advisors where they will be briefed on the new strategic framework.
Measures are also being drawn up to look at how MSPs as a whole can "better scrutinise" future measures, amid recent concerns raised by Holyrood's Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh that Parliament was increasingly being frozen out of the process as emergency measures were quickly imposed by ministers.
Ms Sturgeon said that although there may be requirements for the Government to act quickly given the nature of the pandemic, there had to be "pre-emptive Parliamentary scrutiny” wherever possible given the virus and its effects are likely to part of everyday life for months and perhaps years.
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