Call for localised Covid-19 tiers in Argyll

Argyll and Bute Council leader Robin Currie.

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Argyll and Bute Council’s leader has called for more localised Covid-19 tier arrangements to be introduced across the area.

Councillor Robin Currie has pledged that arrangements are in hand to liaise with Scottish Government ministers on introducing such a scheme, should it be needed in the future.

The call came as figures were released showing that positive cases for Argyll and Bute remain lower than most neighbouring council areas and Scotland as a whole.

Argyll and Bute is currently subject to level two rules under restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government – though First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs last week that there was a possibility the area could be allowed the greater freedom of level one rules if infection rates fall far enough.

In his leader’s report, presented to a full council meeting on Thursday November 26, Councillor Currie said: ‘Argyll and Bute was put into tier two with the associated restrictions starting from Monday, November 2.

‘I spoke with Aileen Campbell MSP, minister for communities and local government, firstly on October 27 as part of a Highlands and Islands local authority leaders’ group call, and then individually the following day.

‘At both calls I advised that local communities across the area are questioning the scope for more localised arrangements, particularly where case levels are very low or non-existent, given the impact on the economy.

‘Ms Campbell highlighted that the decisions about local tier levels are based on a variety of matters (such as available medical services) and do not only relate to infection rates.

‘While she would not commit to agreeing localised arrangements at this point, she did say that this would be kept under consideration.’

Earlier this week Dr Nicola Schinaia, associate director of public health with the area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP), expressed confidence that the work of the HSCP has been effective and would help manage any subsequent phases of the pandemic.

Reporting to the HSCP’s integration joint board at its online meeting on November 25, Dr Schinaia said: ‘Public Health Scotland reports there have been 532 confirmed cases recorded of Covid-19 in Argyll and Bute, with 352 cases from September 1 (as published on November 13, 2020).’

The highest number of new confirmed cases in Argyll and Bute in one day was 15, around the start of October. Only a couple of other days have seen double figures reached.

‘Rates of cases in Argyll and Bute have been relatively stable throughout October and into November and are lower than for Scotland as a whole and for other neighbouring local authority areas, with the exception of Highland,’ she added.