- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- 5th First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes a decision can be made on any changes to self-isolation rules “soon”, but warned of possible dangers.
The UK Government has cut self-isolation requirements for those in England to just seven days provided two lateral flow tests are returned on the sixth and seventh day of isolation.
The Scottish Government has come under pressure, from the Scottish Tories in particular, to follow suit.
But Ms Sturgeon has said she will wait for advice from public health officials before making any decision, which could take days or even weeks.
“The advice right now, given the very fragile stage that we are with Omicron is that we’ve got to be careful that in easing self-isolation we don’t inadvertently allow further spread of the virus and therefore compound rather than alleviate the problem,” she said during First Minister’s Questions.
“Of course, as soon as the public health advice says that it is safe to do so, we will do so.
“I would hope that over the next days, certainly the next couple of weeks, we will start to move to a more proportionate system in terms of self-isolation.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the fact the First Minister said it could be both “days” or “weeks” before a decision is made was “troubling”.
“These rules at the moment, right now, are leading to a shortage of workers in our vital services, on our transport system and across the public sector,” he said.
“People across Scotland can’t afford for this situation to continue for weeks, as the First Minister said.”
Ms Sturgeon told the Tory leader that she recognised the importance of a change to self-isolation rules, but said it was Covid-19 rather than the rules which were hampering the economy.
There is an uncertainty around this, I hope it is soon
She went on to say: “There is an uncertainty around this, I hope it is soon, but we can’t take a view that we need to base this on careful public health considerations and then arbitrarily set a date for doing it.”
The First Minister went on to say two studies into the new variant published by Edinburgh University and Imperial College London – both of which suggested Omicron may result in a lower proportion of hospital admissions – were “really encouraging”.
“We need to take care at this critical moment, because if we allow the spread of Omicron to get too far ahead of us, even if it is significantly less severe, that is going to overwhelm us,” she said.
“So anything we do right now that risks increasing spread such as removing self-isolation rules or weakening self-isolation rules too quickly, actually could be seriously counterproductive just at the point where, I agree, we do see some really good news on Omicron.”