First Minister urged to cut self-isolation duration

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The First Minister is due to make a statement to parliament on Wednesday (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
The First Minister is due to make a statement to parliament on Wednesday (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to cut the length of time required for self-isolation in Scotland.

The First Minister will address Parliament on Wednesday to give an update on the situation with Covid-19 as the Omicron variant continues to sweep across the country.

Ms Sturgeon said last week that she hoped to be able to give an update on any changes to the self-isolation period – which is currently 10 days.

We understand the need for caution, but Nicola Sturgeon’s dithering and delaying is continuing to have a major impact on frontline services and the wider economy

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has called for the period to be cut to seven days, if two negative tests are returned in the final two days, and for household contacts to be allowed to leave isolation if they test negative.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said on Tuesday that the Government is still “actively considering” the move, adding that the First Minister will provide “further details” on Wednesday on the changes – which have been made by Wales and Northern Ireland in the past week.

“Scotland has the strictest self-isolation rules anywhere in the United Kingdom,” Mr Ross said.

“We understand the need for caution, but Nicola Sturgeon’s dithering and delaying is continuing to have a major impact on frontline services and the wider economy, due to the sheer numbers having to isolate.

“She must finally confirm in her latest update that the period of isolation will be cut to seven days, for those who have tested negative twice.

“Her indecision, coupled with new restrictions, has harmed many businesses at what should have been their busiest time of the year.”

The Tory leader has called for changes to self isolation rules (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Wire)
The Tory leader has called for changes to self isolation rules (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Wire)

He added: “We’ve been calling for weeks for these changes to self-isolation rules to be done safely and since then we’ve seen more evidence that the Omicron variant is proving to be less severe in terms of the impact it is having on those who get the virus.

“Nicola Sturgeon must listen to the warnings from many crucial sectors and finally implement a cut in the length of time people have to isolate for.

“We’ve seen Wales and Northern Ireland now do this, so people have rightly been asking why has the First Minister continued to wait to do likewise in Scotland?

“Her current approach is unsustainable and tomorrow’s update must finally bring in the necessary changes to protect essential services.”

Mr Ross’s comments were echoed by Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie.

Ms Baillie, who is also the party’s health spokeswoman, said: “The SNP must use this update to confirm whether they will change self-isolation requirements in line with the latest evidence, to stop staff absences piling yet more pressure on businesses and services this winter.”

Deputy First Minister said the Government is still ‘actively considering’ reducing the self-isolation period (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Wire)
Deputy First Minister said the Government is still ‘actively considering’ reducing the self-isolation period (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Wire)

She went on to also push for an increase in testing capacity after Scots faced trouble booking a PCR test over the festive period.

“Scotland’s testing system is showing signs of considerable strain, leaving people across the country facing impossible decisions.

“Before any new restrictions can be justified the Government must act to ensure our testing system is working properly and demonstrate the evidence that new rules would meet the unique challenges of Omicron.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday, Mr Swinney said: “The First Minister confirmed that to Parliament in the virtual session on the December 29 and further details will be shared with Parliament in its virtual session tomorrow.

“So, yes, that issue is under consideration.

“We are obviously looking at the clinical advice that is crucial in the handling of this because, as I’ve indicated before in these discussions, we do not in any way, shape or form serve anybody’s interest if we ignore the clinical dimension of this issue, and the risk of transmissibility of allowing individuals to return to the workplace if they’re still carrying the virus.”

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