Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has called for an accelerated reopening of gyms and schools in Tuesday’s Covid-19 update from the First Minister.
He has also said the party will vote against the SNP’s Budget as it fails to fully fund local services and delays the introduction of free school meals.
The SNP have already u-turned on plans to keep some pupils out of school until mid-April but the Scottish Conservatives say this does not go far enough, in light of the recent encouraging public health data and success of the vaccine.
The Scottish Conservatives are also calling for gyms to reopen three weeks earlier. They say gyms should reopen safely around 4 April when the stay at home message ends, instead of 26 April when it seems that the SNP Government will allow gyms to reopen.
Public health professionals have said that the virus is in decline and rates are very low. Hospital admissions have also fallen faster than the most optimistic Scottish Government projections.
On the lockdown restrictions update, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The update tomorrow has to offer a lot more hope and optimism than the bleak picture the First Minister painted last time.
“The huge success of Scotland and the UK’s vaccine scheme has brought the virus back under control and we should now look to safely start on the road back to normality.
“The SNP already u-turned on their plan to keep some pupils out of schools until mid-April. We encourage them to go further and safely return all pupils to school over the next week.
“We also believe the public health data makes an accelerated reopening of gyms possible. Given how important exercise is to mental and physical wellbeing, we believe that the safe reopening of gyms should be prioritised for early reopening.”
On the Scottish Budget, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The Scottish Conservatives will vote against the SNP’s Budget tomorrow.
“It does not deliver on the Scottish Parliament vote to introduce free school meals this year, as the Scottish Conservatives proposed in September last year.
“It fails to fully support local services with a fair funding deal for councils.
“We cannot endorse an SNP Budget when they have plans to wreck Scotland’s recovery by continuing their push for indyref2 as early as this year.”
The hospital admissions data is covered here - https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/fall-in-covid-patients-beats-best-case-scenario-in-scotland-tqxrgzxdd
Other comments from public health professionals include:
Professor Mark Woolhouse told a commons select committee that the numbers were looking good. He said: ‘transmission blocking potential is key, but so of course is its actual ability to protect against death and disease and to keep people out of hospital. And all those numbers are looking really good, so my conclusion is that if you are driven by the data and not by dates, right now you should be looking at earlier unlocking because the data are so good’. (Hansard, Science and technology committee, 17 February 2021, link).
He also told the COVID committee that the pandemic appears to be in decline in Scotland. He said: ‘The current situation is that the epidemic appears to be in decline in Scotland. The numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths are coming down. The vaccine roll-out is going extremely well; the numbers of those who have been vaccinated have exceeded most people’s expectations of a few weeks ago’, (Official Report, COVID-19 committee, 25 February 2021, link).
Jason Leitch said he is more hopeful than he has been for some time as rates continue to go in the right direction. He said: ‘I am hopeful today, more hopeful than I have been in some time…there is still some way to go but it is moving, but it is very very encouraging and it is moving quickly. Positivity same story, below 5 now for a few days…al 4 data points moving in the right direction and moving quite quickly in the right direction. (Scottish Government, Coronavirus briefing, 5 March 2021, link).
Professor Hugh Pennington said the numbers were going in the right direction. He said: ‘I think we are going in the right direction. The number of cases is very low and it shows the control measures are working. “We are coping well with the virus in the north-east and it would be nice to get cases down to zero but there’s always going to be a risk of the virus being imported’. (PA, 17 February 2021, link).