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Murdo Fraser calls for return to local lockdowns as coronavirus figures reveal ‘unfair anomaly’

Murdo Fraser MSP.
Murdo Fraser MSP.

A Perthshire MSP has called for a return to local lockdowns after new figures revealed the area has one of the lowest rate of coronavirus cases in Scotland.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser claimed nationwide measures “seem very unfair on residents living in Perth and Kinross” and urged ministers to return to local restrictions “instead of sweeping measures which affect the whole country”.

Tighter rules were introduced last week, including a 10pm curfew for all hospitality venues, a ban on visits to other households and rules restricting when and how people can meet up in other settings.

The measures, which were brought in to prevent a resurgence in community transmission, were applied uniformly across Scotland, in contrast to the localised measures used to tackle an outbreak linked to pubs and bars in Aberdeen.

New data from Public Health Scotland have shown Perth and Kinross had an infection rate of 20.4 per 100,000 in the seven days up to September 25, one of the lowest anywhere in Scotland, while Glasgow had 179.6.

During the same period. Aberdeen had an infection rate of 29.3 per 100,000, while the Western Isles came in at 26.2, Fife at 36.9, and Dundee at 67.6.

Aberdeenshire, Angus, Highland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland council areas all had a rate lower than 20 per 100,000.

Mr Fraser has called on the government to explain why guidelines are the same in Perth and Kinross as they are in Glasgow, when the latter has “much higher” case rates.

“These figures quite clearly show that Perth and Kinross had the lowest number of Covid cases in Scotland, yet its residents are having to suffer the same restrictions as the rest of Scotland,” he said.

“It’s an unfair anomaly. The figures show a real difference, with Perth and Kinross having 20.4 and Glasgow having a staggering 179.6 cases per 100,000.

“The SNP Government needs to explain why we are seeing the same restrictions here as in Glasgow, where there are many more people with Covid.

“They also need to answer why all of Scotland is subject to the same restrictions at the moment when we see such a huge range in the number of Covid cases.”

The Scottish Government faced criticism from industry bodies and Douglas Lumsden, co-leader of the city council, for shutting down hospitality and restricting travel in Aberdeen but taking no such action as numbers grew in Glasgow weeks later.

Douglas Lumsden.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said this was because there was no evidence of the Glasgow outbreak being linked to pubs and bars but she was accused by Mr Lumsden of treating the city more favourably because it voted yes to Scottish independence.

He has also claimed the rest of Scotland was “put at risk” by the decision not to introduce a lockdown in Glasgow when cases started to rise.

But following similar criticism from Scottish secretary Alister Jack, Ms Sturgeon described her national ban last week as “old-fashioned preventative action” that would help stop the virus spreading again to areas with fewer cases.

She said it would be “too late to take action” by the time the number of cases surges locally, adding that deaths would be “baked into the situation” if the Scottish Government was to wait too long.

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