Ross welcomes lowering of UK alert level and calls for hospitality restrictions to be eased

Moray MP Douglas Ross has welcomed the news that Chief Medical Officers across the UK have agreed to lower the Covid-19 alert level from four to three following a steady reduction in cases across the country. Level three means that while the virus is still in general circulation, there can be a gradual releasing of restrictions and social distancing measures. This has prompted the local MP to call on the Scottish Government to ease the restrictions placed on the hospitality sector, many of whom had planned to open beer gardens and outside areas ahead of the First Minister’s announcement yesterday.  Sadly, Nicola Sturgeon has not allowed this, despite a witness to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee - which Mr Ross sits on at Westminster - questioning this decision.

Commenting Douglas said:

“The news that the Covid-19 alert level has dropped following a review of the evidence by Chief Medical Officers across the UK is very welcome and shows all the sacrifices and effort people have put in over recent weeks and months has paid off.  We have not beaten Covid-19 yet, but this is a positive step forward and if we continue to work together, we can make even more progress.

“As well as saving lives we also have to save livelihoods and I was hopeful that by now many of the local restaurants, pubs and cafes in Moray could have been opening outdoor areas to start trading again. Indeed many had plans in place for this and had invested ahead of hopefully getting the green light from the Scottish Government. Unfortunately, in the statement from the First Minister on Thursday she ruled this out, despite experts questioning the evidence of this approach when other parts of the UK and across the World are allowing outdoor eating and drinking.

“At the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster which I’m now a member of, we heard from Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at Edinburgh University who said she had no idea where the evidence came from for some of the Scottish Government lockdown decisions.

“There is a growing sense that the recovery in Scotland is going to be far harder if the Scottish Government don’t trust business and individuals to operate safely in the next phase.  When we can see this done in a safe and controlled environment in other parts of the UK and Europe, you have to ask why we can’t do that here in Moray and across Scotland.

“I’m really concerned for the businesses in Moray that invested in outdoor spaces to welcome customers who have now had to put these plans on hold.  We need to kick-start the economy and these local businesses will play a crucial role if they survive.  However, the longer these restrictions last with questionable evidence for Scotland going slower than the rest of the country, the more difficult it will be and we risk losing some of our best businesses.  That’s why I hope the Scottish Government will urgently look at this again, trust the businesses who have prepared to open safely and get our economy going again.”