Mass testing and pop-up vaccination clinics should be put in place in Glasgow to ensure the city can move to Level 2 with the rest of the country, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.
Scotland’s largest city has been kept in Level 3 restrictions due to a spike in Covid-19 cases, mostly emanating from the southside of the city.
On Monday, figures released showed that the number of cases per 100,000 people in the previous week in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area was more than double the national average.
But with hospitality and other sectors struggling after more than a year of some kind of restrictions, Mr Sarwar said action needed to be taken.
“I want us to recognise that we have a specific challenge in Glasgow and I don’t think it’s right that Glasgow carries on perpetual lockdown – that in itself would have a negative effect on people’s health and wellbeing”, he told the PA news agency.
“I think we need urgent action – not a timid response, not inconsistency of the messaging, not an inconsistency of decision-making.
“Let’s identify those hotspot areas, let’s get mass PCR testing, door to door if necessary, let’s have pop up clinics for the vaccine for anyone aged 18 and above whether they’ve got an appointment or not they can turn up and get their vaccination and let’s get our city open again.”
Mr Sarwar, speaking with business leaders in the city’s George Square, said he had already urged Scottish Government officials to put such a plan in place, adding that knowing the metrics Glasgow would have to hit should be made clear.
Glasgow’s population density and acute depravation in some areas of the city, Mr Sarwar said, were the cause of the city’s issues with Covid-19 – it has consistently had the highest case numbers in Scotland throughout the pandemic and has seen a surge in recent weeks.
Donald MacLeod MBE, the convener of the Glasgow Licensing Forum and owner of the Garage and Cathouse nightclubs, said the Scottish Government has “failed” to provide a route map out of restrictions thus far.
Mr MacLeod said there should be an indicative date laid out by the Scottish Government for the reopening of his sector, but claimed the most important issue was engagement between officials and the industry.
“Our various groups have had various meetings… but these meetings very rarely amount to anything, they’re brief consultations,” he said.
“It’s just not good enough – there’s always an excuse.”