Rutherglen and Cambuslang will have a phased return out of lockdown, but the region is still behind the national average in combating coronavirus.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday announced a “route map” to easing restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, with a return to different tiered levels for local regions possible by the last week of April.
Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey said the announcement offers “firm grounds for optimism” for the coming months.
However, the Royal Burgh comes under the South Lanarkshire region, which remains one of Scotland’s worst affected by Covid-19.
That could see it placed in one of the highest tiers, with restrictions on shopping, eating out and transport still encouraged even as the full national lockdown is eased.
The most recent stats for coronavirus show that the region is faring worse than the Scottish national average.
The national average for the positive rate per 100,000 population over the past seven days is 103.9 – but in South Lanarkshire it is 125.7.
The national test positivity rate for the past seven days sits at 5.1 per cent, while in South Lanarkshire it is higher, at 5.7 per cent.
Within the region itself, parts of Rutherglen and Cambuslang continue to be among the hardest hit, with Burnhill and Bankhead North, Westburn and Newton and Vicarland and Cairns all still showing higher rates of infection than the average for the local authority in the past week.
The First Minister’s announcement yesterday afternoon said that Scotland’s proposed route will be focused around data, rather than hard and fast dates, and would offer a “phased but significant reopening of the economy.”
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The First Minister stated: “It is by being cautious, careful and patient for the next period – while the vaccination programme progresses – that we will make that route as safe and sustainable as possible.
“Taking the brakes off too quickly will allow the virus to get ahead of us again and put our progress out of lockdown into reverse. I appreciate that this can be a frustrating message – but it is an essential one.
“In short, our current position is extremely positive and promising – and we should all take heart from that. But still quite precarious and if we are to sustain our progress, we do need to exercise care and caution.”
A tentative date of April 26 has been set for beginning to ease the restrictions, with the government then deciding what tiers to move regions into.
The First Minister added that she hoped by the end of April all areas would be able to move to level three.
Some school pupils have already returned to class this week, with more children and teenagers likely to join them from March 15.
An easing on care home restrictions was also announced at the weekend, taking effect from early in March.
Outdoor gatherings for groups of people could be allowed by March 15, allowing four people from two different households to meet up.
The hope is that by April 5 the stay at home restrictions could be eased, as could communal worship. Outdoor gatherings would be increased to six people at that point, while some click and collect services could begin again at non-essential retailers.
Three weeks later, on April 26, would see the reopening of shops, restaurants, pubs and hairdressers. However, that is dependent on a move out of tier 4.
The First Minister added that there was still uncertainty about the dates, depending on coronavirus data.
She stated if the data improved it was possible the government could accelerate the easing of restrictions. Further documents are due to be published in mid- March, providing further detail on the plans.
Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey said: “We know that we cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely, so we need to balance all the different factors and have a gradual phased return to as much normality as possible, as quickly as possible. I therefore think that the Scottish Government’s approach is the correct one.
“If we open up too quickly, we risk setting our progress back. We want to avoid another lockdown, so a cautious and progressive easing is in everyone’s interests.
“We have firm grounds for optimism – our vaccination programme is progressing amazingly, and we have many other tools at our disposal which will offer us a route back to greater normality.
“The people of Rutherglen and Cambuslang have sacrificed so much over the past year, but we now have real hope and a firm and sustainable way out of this.”
Last year South Lanarkshire spent part of November and December in Tier 4, moved to Tier 3 just before Christmas and then reverted to Tier 4 on Boxing Day.
The Scottish government are aiming to have the adult population of the country vaccinated by the end of July.
-- to www.dailyrecord.co.uk