Nicola Sturgeon has warned against seeing the decision to lift restrictions in Aberdeen as a “clashing of horns” between the Scottish Government and local government.
In a question from a journalist during her daily coronavirus briefing, it was put to the First Minister that council leaders at Aberdeen City Council had spent two hours on the phone with the chief medical officer Gregor Smith who was calling for a more cautious approach.
Instead Aberdeen was released from its local lockdown on Sunday following a two and a half week period under the new restrictions, allegedly due to council lobbying.
Nicola Sturgeon rejected out of hand the suggestion that the decision was made due to lobbying and not due to the science and public health arguments.
She said: “Anybody who thinks these decisions should be the result of lobbying is frankly coming at this from entirely the wrong perspective.
"This is an infectious virus where we have to be precautionary in order to keep a virus under control, and where we have a cluster get it under control and stop it seeding widespread community transmission.
“This is not some kind of political debate backwards and forwards about who wants to be tough and who wants to be precautionary.
"We have to take these decisions based on data, based on evidence and we have to think about them very carefully.”
She added that “careful examination” of evidence was necessary before decisions were made and said everyone was working towards the same goal.
Ms Sturgeon said: "There’s been a lot of very careful examination of the data in Aberdeen and more widely in Grampian. We’ve had to think carefully about the sequencing of lifting restrictions so that we can do that as quickly as possible but that we do it in a way that in relation to hospitality for example, allows a bit of time for appropriate environmental health checks to be done.
"We’re all trying to achieve the same thing here and I would really caution against anybody seeing this as you know two tiers of government having a clashing of horns or one lobbying the other, for goodness sake.
"As we have seen all partners do, and this is not a criticism of Aberdeen City Council, we all have to work together here with the same objectives in mind and taking the same precautionary evidence led approach.”
Interim chief medical officer Gregor Smith added that it was true that he preferred a cautious approach last week, but that he was satisfied with the decision that had been made.
He said: “It is absolutely true to say that last week I was of the mind that we had to adopt a cautious approach and that we were getting ready from the data that I was seeing to be able to make a change in those restrictions.
"That’s why we put in place this mid-week review, that’s what would enable us to get additional information to be able to assess the trajectory that we thought we were on we had stayed on and fortunately that’s turned out to be the case.
"When we had the discussion yesterday it was right that we interrogated that data and we interrogated it fully but at the end of that conversation both myself and the national clinical director were both content to make the recommendations that we did which were to begin the relaxation of those restrictions from today.”