• Iain

Move to Phase 3 of COVID Route Map Welcomed

South Scotland MSP, Paul Wheelhouse, has welcomed the First Minister's announcement that the Scottish Government is moving to Phase 3 of Scotland’s Coronavirus Route Map.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, gave the green light on Thursday with a number of changes in Phase 3 being introduced in stages. The new rules came into place today (Friday 10th July), making face coverings mandatory in shops and retail premises.

A full list of the changes and timescales is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis-phase-3-update/.

Those experiencing any of the three key symptoms of COVID-19 should still book a test as soon as possible through nhsinform.scot or by calling 0800 028 2816. This includes a new continuous cough, a fever or any loss of or change in an individual’s sense of taste or smell.

Commenting Mr Wheelhouse said:

"The move to Phase 3 is only possible because of the great progress we've all made in communities across the Scottish Borders and wider Scotland in suppressing the virus and maintaining a sustained decline in confirmed cases. The approach taken by the Scottish Government and by the First Minister is working and thankfully that progress allows us to give people and businesses increasing freedom as we continue the journey back to normality – or a new normal.

"I know that many of the changes announced yesterday will be hugely welcomed by the general public, including greater freedom to attend places of worship and to attend funeral services and the projected reopening of hairdressers and barbers on 15th July is also much anticipated by all of us who have been having to resort to DIY haircuts. However, as the First Minister stated at today’s briefing it's very important to remember that the virus still poses a threat and in that respect we cannot afford any complacency. We will only get to Phase 4 of the route map if we continue to suppress this deadly virus, as we do not yet have a vaccine that we can use. However, this is absolutely a time for, as the First Minister said, 'cautious hope', but to avoid that hope evaporating the onus is on individuals to not take liberties now. Phase 3, which is likely to last longer than three weeks, is the most substantial easing of lockdown that has happened so far and people have to be mindful of the additional risks, not just for themselves but for those that they are meeting as well. That is why it is so important for people to follow the rules on mandatory use of face coverings in shops, which came into force today, and make sure to wear them in any enclosed public space, including on public transport.

“Clearly, wearing a face covering may be challenging for children under 5 and those people with a number of health conditions, such as those with asthma or other lung conditions, or learning disabilities or autism, so we should expect that a significant proportion of people may be exempt for these reasons and respect their reasons. However, if those who can wear a face covering do so, that will maximise the effectiveness in ensuring the safety of the community as a whole and I encourage all to do so..

"If we're sensible and patient, maintain physical distancing where we can, avoid crowded spaces and keep good discipline on hand hygiene and using face coverings, we'll soon be able to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. It is down to us all, as individuals, not to throw away the hard work and sacrifices we have all made already to get to this point."