Twice-weekly coronavirus tests for every citizen are a “really strong idea” to help tackle the pandemic, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.
Mr Sarwar said that testing needs to be ramped up and supported by a tracing system to ensure the country never needs to go into lockdown again.
The UK Government has announced that everyone in England is to be offered free, twice-weekly coronavirus tests from Friday.
The lateral flow tests – which can provide results in around 30 minutes – will be available regardless of whether people have symptoms.
Speaking as he went for a haircut in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow, in the constituency where he is standing against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Sarwar welcomed the idea of the tests.
He told the PA news agency: “Today businesses are starting to reopen, I’m going in to get my well-overdue haircut and if we want to keep businesses open, if we want to keep people in work, how we isolate the virus and stop the spread of the virus is going to be a really important part of that.
“So we’ve got to ramp up testing and I think the idea of twice-weekly testing for every citizen is a really good idea, a really strong idea.
“We should have a mass rollout of testing, backed up with a tracing system so when we find the virus we can isolate the virus, suppress the virus, meaning we never have to go into lockdown again.”
Mr Sarwar also announced plans to boost apprenticeships to ensure Covid-19 does not leave a “lost generation” of young people.
He said that Scottish Labour will place new work opportunities for young Scots at the heart of its jobs recovery plan.
Mr Sarwar said the party’s plans to regrow the economy include 5,000 apprenticeship places and a sharing scheme so that businesses in key sectors like construction or agriculture take on an apprentice together.
The proposals would involve more than doubling the hourly rate for a 23-year-old apprentice.
Mr Sarwar said: “The most important part of our national recovery is making sure we have a jobs recovery and part of that is making sure we don’t have a lost generation amongst our young people and that’s why we want to create 5,000 additional apprenticeships for young people across the country at a higher rate of pay as well, so doubling what the apprentices currently get paid across the country so we can boost the economy, create jobs and make sure we don’t have a lost generation coming through Covid.”
He added: “We want it to be a partnership between the Government and employers, and we will be setting out in more detail when we publish our manifesto next week about how that will be funded.”