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Council leaders fail in last minute plea to end Aberdeen lockdown ahead of first minister’s press conference

The leaders of Aberdeen City Council have revealed they “do not support” an extension of the local lockdown measures – only minutes before First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced it would remain in place.

Councillors Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing issued a joint press statement at 12 noon, calling on the Scottish Government to relax lockdown from Saturday.

The co-leaders state this would be in line with guidance from the expert team set up to monitor the coronavirus outbreak in the city.

The first minister said there 226 cases linked to the cluster, first traced through city nightspots.

Ms Sturgeon this afternoon confirmed the lockdown would remain in place for another week.

She also announced a £1million fund to help with the impact of the Aberdeen restrictions.

Moments before, Aberdeen Labour leader Jenny Laing said: “At our meeting with Scottish Government officials yesterday we heard from the local Covid-19 Outbreak Incident Management Team that they believed the situation is now under adequate control and mitigation measures can be put in place to allow lower risk settings to open on Saturday 22nd August subject to site specific assessments.

“I can confirm that the council is ready to make these site-specific assessments to allow businesses to open.”

“It is apparent that Covid-19 has already had a significant impact on our local economy and continuing with the current restrictions is only going to make a bad economic situation even worse.

“The perception and reputation of Aberdeen is being damaged the longer this goes on and as the Incident Management Team has shown with proper safeguards in place Aberdeen can and should be allowed to begin lifting the restrictions on Saturday.”

Mrs Laing claimed the continued closure of restaurants, cafes and bars is having “a serious impact ” on businesses outside the hospitality trade, reporting a 60% drop in retail footfall in the past fortnight.

Her Conservative coalition partner Mr Lumsden added that government figures had shown 5,100 city jobs at 70 firms were at risk of redundancy, including in the locked-down hospitality trade.

That figure is the highest in Scotland, and is nearly three times the number in neighbouring Aberdeenshire.

He said: “The Grampian Covid-19 Incident Management Team also proposed that the statutory restrictions on movement and gatherings should be removed on Saturday, subject to ongoing epidemiological review.

“This was because the local incident management team recognised there was no information to support an acceleration of Covid-19 incidence in vulnerable populations at risk of severe adverse disease outcomes.

“The First Minister must be aware of the harm extending the lockdown is doing to both our citizens and our economy and evidence shows that Aberdeen has been disproportionately affected.”

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