Scots 'local lockdowns' may be used to tackle fresh Covid outbreaks

Scotland could see localised "lockdowns" imposed in particular areas of the country if there are fresh outbreaks of Covid-19, the Constitution Secretary has warned.

Posters with the message "keep looking out for each other Glasgow" and featuring song lyrics by Scottish artists such as Simple Minds, Dougie MacLean and Stealers Wheel have appeared around Glasgow city centre.

Mike Russell said the measure was a "tool available" to ministers after Germany re-introduced lockdown measures in two districts in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia after flare-ups of the virus.

The issue was raised today at Holyrood's Covid-19 committee as MSPs took evidence from the Cabinet secretary on the emergency laws which have been introduced to deal with the pandemic in Scotland.

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Liberal Democrat Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said: "Learning from the experience of countries like Germany can I ask what the Scottish Government's plan is if there were similar outbreaks in localised areas of Scotland?"

Mike Russell says local lockdowns could be introduced

Mr Russell told the committee that such a measure is among the provisions in the Scottish Government's "Route map" out of Coronavirus lockdown.

"The option of more localised lockdowns, in terms of a recurrence of the virus in certain places has not been ruled out,” he said.

"I can't go further than that because the circumstances have not arisen, but I think the route map makes that very clear if you were to have an outbreak which is identifiable and could lead to others, the evidence, as well as the advice was that that should be dealt with by means of a local lockdown. That would be very serious."

He added: "That would be a tool that would be available."

The Cabinet Secretary also played down calls from Green MSP Ross Greer to publish the expert advice received by ministers to assist the decision-making process in relation to Covid-19. The Glasgow MSP spoke out after John Swinney announced the full-time return of schools in August with the prospect of no social distancing in classrooms.

But Mr Russell insisted that it "has never been the practice" of Government's to publish internal advice it receives. This generally not done because of concerns that experts may be wary about providing full and frank advice if they knew it was to be published for public consumption.

"I'm not trying to be difficult about this but as a minister of many years standing I have to say that if every single piece of advice was published than it would be impossible to have anything like an administration operating in a normal way,” Mr Russell said

"But we have been committed and we are committed to publishing the evidence and that's what we do."

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