I know that many of my constituents in Midlothian will be hugely disappointed to hear that we are not able to leave Level 3 of Covid-19 restriction today as planned. I completely understand the frustrations, especially as a Midlothian resident myself - no one wants these restrictions. From the data presented to me, there has been a drastic acceleration of cases in the last few days, which has shown a 61% increase in cases in Midlothian, despite the fact the cases across the rest of Scotland are going down. The only right step forward to take is one which protects public health and our community has to come first. We need to think about the most vulnerable locally, and protecting the NHS, as well as opening up the possibility to see loved ones at Christmas.
I hugely sympathise with my constituents, in particular business owners, and I made urgent representations to ask what support would be put in place. From a discussion with the Deputy First Minister, I have been made aware that Midlothian Council are going to be given a discretionary fund to support businesses who put measures in place ahead of reopening, for example when a business has stocked up on food in preparation for reopening in Level 2. I would urge those businesses who need support to get in contact with myself or directly with the council.
We need to continue to follow the guidance, continue to work together and do what we can to get these stubborn infection rates down. I completely understand that people are frustrated, angry and upset, however we need to do the right thing to protect those who need it most.
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