LISTEN: John Swinney gives his view on why the government set Perth and Kinross to Tier 2 Restrictions
Answering questions in a press conference yesterday, Perthshire North MSP and deputy first minister, John Swinney, explained why the government decided to choose Perth and Kinross to go into tier 2 restrictions.
Perth and Kinross neighbors one of the most northerly area, Dundee, to come under some of the tightest restrictions faced in the country, it appeared for this reason Perth and Kinross might join Dundee for how closely linked the communities are.
Simon Johnston from the Telegraph asked the first minister how the government reached this decision after Mr Swinney had said he ‘tended to air on the side of caution’ and asked why Perth and Kinross didn’t face tighter restrictions while neighboring Dundee, one of the areas with the most cases in this part of the country.
In response, Mr Swinney said: “The challenges in the Perth and Kinross area were largely located around the boundary between with the city of Dundee. Areas such as Invergowrie, for example, which is just on the outskirts of Dundee.
“But Perth and Kinross represents a really vast geography that goes way inland to Rannoch and to Highland Perthshire.”
For Mr Swinney, the issue comes down to the ‘sensitive judgement of geography’ which he says has to be made, Highland Perthshire is such a large stretch of area that it would be harder on some communities who are less connected to areas with high cases.
Kinloch Rannoch and Blair Atholl are some communities who border the Highlands who are, by contrast, are in tier 1 restrictions.
Mr Swinney added: “But if you go back to what the first minister said in Parliament yesterday, her guidance and her advice for people in the Perth and Kinross and Angus areas, for example, was to take extra care because of their proximity to an area in proximity to an area of high intensity of the virus.
“So, we make these judgements which take into account, yes the data but also some of other, more subtle, factors that we have to reflect on.”
His views on keeping the virus at bay within the community are shared with Dr Emma Fletcher, from NHS Tayside, who said: “Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions and we know that every decision taken has a huge impact for people living in our communities.
“Our priority is to reduce the direct impact of the virus on our health, to reduce the number of people who will experience long-term effects from the infection and to save lives.
“We must all do everything we can to make it harder for this virus to spread. If we all stick with it and follow the FACTS rules, keep to physical distancing at all times and not visit each other’s houses, we can suppress the virus.”
F – Face coverings. These should be used in shops and on public transport (buses, trains and taxis)
A – Avoid crowded places
C – Clean your hands frequently, using water and soap whenever possible
T – Two metres – observe physical distancing
S – Self-isolate and book a test if you are suffering from COVID-19 symptoms