Council leader calls for clarity over five-tier Covid plan

Scottish Borders leader expects council to be placed in level two if the system is agreed by parliament.

Council leader calls for clarity over five-tier Covid plan Getty Images

The leader of Scottish Borders Council has called for “clarity” on the proposed five-tier coronavirus alert system.

Shona Haslam said the local authority expects to be placed at level two, should the framework approved by the Scottish Parliament.

The First Minister said on Tuesday that in broad terms restrictions currently in place outside of the central belt are equivalent to level two, meaning the situation in the Borders should not change significantly.

Nicola Sturgeon also said that for many parts of Scotland there would be no “immediate change” to the restrictions they find themselves under, although a leaked report has suggested Lanarkshire is being considered for level four.

Councillor Haslam said she wants to understand where the Borders needs to get to in order to move to tier one and what does the infection rate have to look like to move to tier three.

She told BBC Radio Scotland: “I’m just looking for clarity. I want to understand why the Scottish Borders has been put in tier two and what business support is going to be available for those industries affected.

“We currently have an infection rate of 30 per 100,000, we have no community transmission, we have space in our hospital and those are the indicators that the Scottish Government are basing their decisions on.

“I want to understand why we’re in tier two and what the implications for business are going to be.”

Under level two measures, pubs, restaurants and cafes would remain open. Alcohol could be sold outdoors but only with a main meal indoors and restrictions on opening hours may apply.

Councillor Haslam said hospitality businesses might be able to survive with a 10pm curfew but said a 6pm closing time would be a “hammer blow” for them.

She added: “On tier two we know that hospitality will be able to function with some time limits, so if it’s the same as we’re in now pubs and restaurants will have to stop serving alcohol and meals inside from 6pm.

“Now we’re in a Scottish winter, we all know that’s not sustainable for pubs and restaurants. So we’re really looking for clarity around that, will it be extended until 10pm or will it stick to 6pm?

“If it’s extended to 10pm, our businesses might be able to get through this but if stays at 6pm it’s just a hammer blow for the hospitality business in the borders.”

The Scottish Parliament will debate the five-tier system on Tuesday, qhich if voted through will come into force on November 2.

Sturgeon said on Tuesday: “The best way of moving to a lower level of restrictions and of living more freely is to have a lower level of transmission of the virus.

“The best way we have of driving transmission lower and keeping it low is for all of us to stick to the rules that are in place at any given time.

“And that, of course, is a collective responsibility for all of us.”

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