Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said the parts of Scotland with Level 4 restrictions will definitely be moved out of lockdown later this week.
Ms Freeman had to clarify, after saying that “all options are on the table” when it came to the areas in the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions.
But she has now insisted that all 11 local authorities in Level 4 would be moved down on Friday, after accusations of “mixed messaging” by opposition MSPs.
Appearing on the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme yesterday, Ms Freeman would not rule out the tightest restrictions being in place over Christmas.
Asked if those parts of the country in Level 4 would have the restrictions eased, she said: “Well, we will announce that on Tuesday, the First Minister will make a statement, Cabinet will discuss and reach a final decision on Tuesday morning.
“And right now, as is always the case in advance of these reviews, a great deal of work is going on, analysing the data, talking to colleagues in local authorities, taking senior clinical advice, all of which is designed to help us reach a judgment about what is the right thing to do and we’ll announce that on Tuesday.”
The show’s host Gary Robertson then asked: “So it could be the case that some of the areas that are currently in Level 4 will remain so after the end of next week?”
Ms Freeman replied: “Well, all options are on the table at this point Gary, as you would expect them to be. But it doesn’t mean, people shouldn’t read from that any decision one way or the other.
“The work goes on over the weekend so that we have the most up-to-date data, the most up-to-date clinical advice, then we take a decision as a cabinet on Tuesday, and the First Minister makes that announcement on Tuesday.”
Ms Freeman later sought to clarify and tweeted: “11 local authorities currently in Level 4 will come out of that level on Friday.
“That position has not changed. The Cabinet will decide on Tuesday what level below 4 they’ll go into.
“My comments were intended to mean in respect of that decision, all options are on the table.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “This mixed messaging and confusion from the SNP health secretary helps nobody as they plan to come out of the toughest restrictions.
“The questions she was asked could not have been clearer. These restrictions affect millions of people and they deserve a clear and consistent message from SNP ministers.
“While it is welcome that the Government has eventually confirmed these restrictions will end, there was absolutely no need for this speculation to occur in the first place.”
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, said: “It’s worrying that the First Minister and the health secretary are contradicting each other on something as serious as the Level 4 restrictions, leaving businesses and millions of Scots in limbo.
“This is no way to handle a pandemic.”
Following the clarification, Ms Lennon added: “This is not the time for spin.
“Jeane Freeman muddled the message and should simply hold her hands up and apologise to those businesses and people living in Level 4.
“The pandemic is far from over and people in Scotland need clear, consistent and reliable information from the Scottish Government at all times.”
-- to www.glasgowlive.co.uk