Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart will use a speech in Holyrood this afternoon to make clear that the “islands can’t be an afterthought” in coronavirus decision-making.
Ms Wishart will be speaking in a debate on the Scottish Government’s proposed Strategic Framework for dealing with COVID-19 which sets out five levels of restrictions that could apply to local authority areas.
A Government letter sent to COSLA yesterday indicated that Shetland could be placed in Level 1 with additional measures on “no in-home socialising”. The First Minister told Parliament that she will announce on Thursday which areas will be placed in which level before the rules come into force next Monday.
Ms Wishart is expected to say:
“There needs to be meaningful engagement with the communities to understand their needs. Guidance on quarantining before operations and on how students returning home has to involve public transport. The islands can’t be an afterthought.
“It has taken a great community effort to keep the levels of the virus so low in Shetland. However, the rules on in-home socialising have weighed heavily on families and friends.
“When the going gets tough, those support networks are often what get us through. Shetland has a harsh winter, and stopping people from meeting inside at all will add further to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“If the Scottish Government is going to keep asking people in Shetland to keep to that rule, they need to provide explicit evidence showing Covid risk in Shetland continues to outweigh those social harms.
“I hope that in the wake of this debate, the Scottish Government are clear that this framework needs to be part of a two way conversation. If it wants to bring people along with them, for the greater good, that is essential.”