‘UK Government should not force the hand of devolved nations on Covid’

Humza Yousaf has said UK ministers should not make decisions which could mean Scotland having to take an approach it does not want to on Covid.

‘UK Government should not force the hand of devolved nations on Covid’ STV News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the self-isolation requirement in England is to be dropped a month earlier than had been planned.

The UK Government cannot and should not ‘force the hand’ of the devolved nations over the easing of Covid measures, according to Humza Yousaf.

It comes ahead of self-isolation requirements being dropped in England a month earlier than planned.

It would mean that those who test positive for the virus south of the border would not need to isolate, whilst people in Scotland are still required to isolate for a period of seven days.

The move marks one of the starkest contrasts in public health measures between Scotland and England since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Yousaf, Scotland’s health secretary, acknowledged that the UK Government has the right to make decisions for the people of England.

But, he warned against ministers effectively forcing the Scottish Government to take a different approach in areas where they wish to be more cautious.

“Our public health advice would be that it’s too early to do that at the end of February,” Yousaf told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show programme.

“We’ve got thousands of cases of Omicron at the moment, do we really think it would be wise for somebody who’s positive with Covid and is a social care worker to go work in a care home?

“No, I think most people watching this would say that doesn’t sound sensible at all.”

Yousaf suggested that the Scottish Government’s hand could be forced to respond in a way it does not want to.

“The UK Government has every right to make decisions for people in England, but what they can’t do and shouldn’t do is then force our hand when it comes to our response,” he said.

“I don’t know the detail of what the UK Government’s going to announce but if they are going to, for example, withdraw the universal offer for testing, which I don’t think they should do at the end of February.

“If they do that, then of course tests are procured on a four-nations basis, and that could effectively force our hand to respond in a way that we don’t want to do at this immediate time.”

The Scottish health secretary insisted the ‘rug’ should not be pulled from under the feet of Scottish ministers.

He said: “What we’re saying to the UK Government is, ‘yes, you absolutely have the right, of course you do, to make decisions for the people of England, but that shouldn’t force the hand of the Welsh Government, Northern Irish Government or indeed the Scottish Government’.

“And therefore, if we want to respond in a slightly more cautious manner, then don’t pull the rug from underneath our feet.”

More on