Dumfries and Galloway restrictions may be lifted Tuesday
Restrictions on travel for people living in parts of Dumfries and Galloway may be lifted on Tuesday, with the First Minister seeking “final assurances” before confirming the move.
Nicola Sturgeon said ministers were “as confident as we can be” that a cross-border cluster of coronavirus cases around the Annan and Gretna areas was now under control.
She said she was seeking “final assurances” from officials in North West England before confirming the move later on Monday afternoon.
Sturgeon confirmed 12 cases had been identified in total for that area and that contact tracing had been completed on all of those cases.
The move would mean residents in affected areas would be able to travel further than five miles for leisure purposes, as is now the case in the rest of Scotland.
Sturgeon thanked everyone living in the affected areas for cooperating with rules, but warned there could be similar restrictions imposed around the country if other local outbreaks occurred.
She said: “This will not be the last localised outbreak that we see. There will be further occasions in other parts of Scotland where we may have to ask people to restrict their activities as an outbreak is contained.
"It is only by complying with strict control measures that we will be able to keep the virus under control and hopefully reduce the number of outbreaks that we face."
Deputy First Minister John Swinney chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Group on Monday, where the issue was discussed.
He said: “I would like to thank everyone in Dumfries and Galloway for following the advice and continuing to comply with the restrictions over the weekend to stop the spread of the virus.
“More than 1,500 tests have been carried out in Dumfries and Galloway with 12 positive cases being identified.
“Working closely with local partners, we are confident the outbreak has now been contained. However, we want to ensure that the risk of contracting the virus in these communities is not higher than the rest of the country before lifting restrictions.
“We are asking people in the area to continue to follow the current restrictions and we will aim to lift these as soon as we possibly can. I have asked for further assurances before doing so and the Scottish Government will provide an update tomorrow.”
Dumfries and Galloway Council leader Elaine Murray added: “I want to thank the communities within the affected postcode areas of Dumfries and Galloway for following all the government guidelines over the weekend and for the communities patience and understanding.
“This response shows how our communities in Dumfries and Galloway pull together at difficult times like this and I want to personally thank them for everything that they have done.
“I want to thank the staff involved in our local partnership who have helped with the response of the outbreak over the weekend, particularly our partners in NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Police Scotland and of course our council staff.”
Sturgeon made the announcement during the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus press conference, where she also confirmed it was the Scottish Government’s intention to spend “every penny” of a £97m funding increase from the UK Government to support the arts sector.
The funding came as a result of a £1.57bn package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Sunday evening.
Sturgeon welcomed the funding and said it would give the Scottish Government the ability to provide much more support to businesses and freelancers in the arts sector.