Scotland: Forbes grilled over SNP's 'cautious' lockdown approach

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The SNP Government has been criticised for its handling of coronavirus restrictions, with many Scottish businesses continuing to struggle under the current rules. Rebecca Curran of BBC Scotland’s The Nine grilled Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes on the SNP’s recent decision not to relax restrictions further. Nicola Sturgeon announced this week that most Scots would remain in level two of the five-tier system despite speculation about a further easing of restrictions.

Speaking on The Nine, Kate Forbes said: “I look forward to the day when we have no restrictions, but until that point we have got to manage our exit from lockdown cautiously, carefully so as not to regress and end up in a tougher lockdown.

“That’s the reason why for 14 local authorities including Glasgow, they will remain at level two.

“And today I have announced financial support for those businesses that expected to reopen completely or to see restrictions eased as a result of moving to level one on Saturday.”

Rebecca Curran hit back by saying “The fact is though, many of those businesses just think you’re being far too cautious.”

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“We heard from one soft play owner today in Midlothian… he’s in at £200,000 of debt – debt that he just simply didn’t have before.

“That’s rising, and it will increase by £12,000 over the next three weeks and he thinks that might tip him over the edge, that will be him out of business.

“Now the support that you’re offering won’t even skim the surface.

“And in the area that he’s in, Midlothian, there’ve been no deaths in two months, so why does it make sense to keep businesses like him closed?”

Kate Forbes replied: “Well I think his story will be replicated in a number of other businesses where they have been through a very difficult 14 months, and we are moving through the levels in the hope to get to level zero and actually to get beyond level zero.

“But what we want we’ve seen over the last 14 months is that when we have been cautious and often criticised for it, a matter of weeks later it has been shown to be the right thing to do.

“We have seen that in Glasgow in recent weeks where the figures were worrying, they have now stabilised, so keeping Glasgow back in level three, painful though it was, has enabled Glasgow businesses to move to level two.

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“This is all part of a plan to try and keep the country’s momentum going, but we also can’t dispute the fact that in some cases with the new variant, the delta variant, that is causing some concern because it is a more transmissible infection.”

Under the SNP government’s roadmap, much of Scotland had been expected to move into level one of the tier system by June 5.

However, regions with over 50 cases per 100,000 people have been kept in level two.

Glasgow, previously the only area in level three, will join regions such as Midlothian and Lanarkshire in level two.

Level two allows for hospitality venues to remain open, with groups of up to six permitted to meet inside.

 

 

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