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As Scotland gets to grips with the new 5-level system for Covid controls, which were announced across the country’s 32 local authorities yesterday, local leaders are raising concerns about the impact of travel restrictions in particular.
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce is worried that the new guidelines, which state that people should not leave their local authority area except for essential purposes, will hit businesses relying on an influx of Christmas shoppers from across the country.
The chief executive, Stuart Patrick, said: “Have they considered the damaging impact this will have on Glasgow city centre retail businesses as Christmas season approaches, and we have no festive shoppers allowed from any other tier 3 area – when that effectively means the whole of the Glasgow city region?”
In Aberdeen, the council and business leaders wrote to Nicola Sturgeon urging her to downgrade city restrictions in level 1 “at the nearest possible review point”, arguing that economic harm should be seen as a “significant factor” in decision-making after the summer lockdown badly affected the city, where unemployment has more than doubled since March.
Sturgeon tweeted that she understood the desire for speedier progress but that the country was at a crucial moment where compliance was vital.
Highland councillors continue to press for indoor socialising to be allowed at their level (1), pointing to the extreme difficulty of outdoor meetings in harsh winter weather and the impact of rural isolation on mental health.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has refused to deny that ministers are considering introducing a fourth tier of coronavirus restrictions in England, less than three weeks after the launch of the three-tier model.
Officials are reportedly drawing up plans for an extra layer of measures that would force restaurants and non-essential shops to close in parts of England with the highest infection rates.
Asked whether a tier 4 was being considered, Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday: “We’re always ready for further measures that we can take. But I think the most important thing about further measures is that we continue on the track we’re on of targeting the virus.”
Ministers are under increasing pressure to announce a nationwide “circuit breaker” lockdown as hospital admissions in badly hit parts of the country exceed the height of the first wave.
Raab, who is effectively Boris Johnson’s number two, insisted the “overwhelming scientific advice” to the government was that local lockdowns “are the right way to go”.
He said the government was “striving to avoid” a second national lockdown despite France, Germany and Wales announcing similar nationwide measures in recent days.
He told Sky News that the idea of “a short, sharp circuit breaker is frankly something of an enigma” and that those calling for one had not set out the exit route from such an intervention.
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advised five weeks ago that the government should urgently consider a nationwide two-week lockdown – similar to that in spring but keeping most schools open – but this was ignored.
Raab claimed on the Today programme that “the overwhelming scientific advice to us is [that] targeted measures are the right way to go if you take them and you’re committed to them”.
He added: “The arbitrariness of a blanket approach would be far worse than the effects of trying to be as targeted as possible” and a localised approach was “fair” and “fits the natural justice that we’re focusing on the areas where the uptick is the greatest”.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK coronavirus live: job losses at fastest rate on record as Covid furlough scheme nears end | Politics