Edinburgh MSPs join forces to protest at Level Three decision

A cross-party group of Edinburgh MSPs has written to Nicola Sturgeon voicing their exasperation at Edinburgh’s “unfair” Level Three designation and urging her to reconsider the decision.
Edinburgh MSPs have written to First Minister Nicola SturgeonEdinburgh MSPs have written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Edinburgh MSPs have written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Lib Dem, Labour, Conservative and Green MSPs from the city argued the figures for the virus put the Capital within the parameters for Level Two and said the government’s decision was contrary to the recommendations of public health officials.

The letter says: “In your statement yesterday, you stated that your reason for retaining Edinburgh’s Level Three classification was your concern that the city’s shopping and hospitality sector would act as a magnet for people outside of the city. While all our parties continue to support the five-level framework for infection control, being an attractive destination for shopping and hospitality has never featured in that framework. It’s also not something that we have the power to change. Pre-Christmas shopping and revelries will give way to the January sales – there will always be a magnetism about the city.

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"We would never ask you to take unnecessary risks in the management of this terrible virus. That is why we support the 5 level framework wholeheartedly, but your decision has deviated from the application of that framework and it is now unclear under what circumstances the city would be stepped down to Level Two. This will have a profound impact on the wellbeing of local citizens and the health of the city’s economy. We urge you to reconsider the decision to keep Edinburgh at Level Three.”

Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said people in Edinburgh had complied with the regulations to the letter.

"They’ve more than achieved the progress needed to move down to Level Two but they’re being denied that opportunity.

“Understandably people are incredibly frustrated and questioning why this framework is being unfairly applied. I would urge the First Minister to reconsider this decision”.

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Lothian Tory Miles Briggs described the Level Three decision as a hammer blow to jobs.

He said: “Businesses were desperately looking for a much-needed boost in the run-up to Christmas. The figures speak for themselves in showing how well residents in Edinburgh have done in driving down the spread of the virus.

“There is growing concern that the First Minister is now not following the science and many believe is it time SNP Ministers were upfront as to why Edinburgh has once again not been moved down a level in terms of restrictions, which is understandably causing growing anger among the city’s residents and business community.”

And Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “We need clarity from the First Minister regarding what advice she received from public health officials on Edinburgh’s continued classification at Level Three. These decisions must be robust and the lack of clarity as to how this decision was made is undermining public trust.”

Lothian Green MSP Andy Wightman also signed the letter.

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At her daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said there had been recent increases in cases in Edinburgh and the Lothians. “Looking at all of that we have to ask ourselves a serious question: if we think cases across Lothian, including Edinburgh, might be rising a bit or at worst not really declining, does it make sense to open things up, knowing that will give the virus the opportunity to spread again?”

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