By Bill Heaney
The more the government attempts to clarify the Covid pandemic restrictions on the public, the more confusing they become.
For example, now that the levels will be dictated by council boundaries instead of health board areas, Helensburgh and Cardross will be in Argyll and Bute and Dumbarton, Renton and Vale of Leven will be in West Dunbartonshire.
So, Helensburgh, Cardross and Lomond will be in Level 2 and West Dunbartonshire will be in Level 3 from Monday, November 2.
Confusion is writ large across the information being provided by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her team of advisers – and the FM is beginning to feel the heat of public criticism.
Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Lomond, is today making a brave attempt to explain and clarify the decisions of central government.
However, the deputy leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, has a tougher job than Sisyphus had pushing that boulder up a very steep hill.
She explained: “West Dunbartonshire will remain with the current set of restrictions and are required to follow tier three restrictions from 2 November, 2020, and Argyll and Bute will be required to follow tier two restrictions.”
Tier two [Helensburgh and Cardross] includes:
- No mixing of households with the exceptions of those in bubbles and with caring responsibilities. Groups of six people from two households can meet outdoors.
- Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls remaining open but soft play, funfairs, indoor bowling, casinos, theatres, snooker or pool halls, music venues, nightclubs and adult entertainment venues will be closed.
- Indoor hospitality – such as restaurants, bars and cafes – will be able to stay open until 8pm and alcohol will be on sale to those who are having a meal.
- Travel into tier three areas is advised against for all but essential purposes.
Tier three [Dumbarton and the Vale] includes:
- The same restrictions on household mixing as those within tier two.
- All entertainment venues will be closed.
- Restaurants will be allowed to function like cafes – opening until 6pm, but with all alcohol sales prohibited.
- Travel outwith tier three areas is advised against for all but essential purposes.
During a debate within the Scottish Parliament on this new tiered system, Jackie Baillie called on Nicola Sturgeon to ensure that the public, workers and business owners had as much clarity as possible in order to try to ensure compliance with the rules.
She also called for specific support to be given to the hospitality and tourism sectors to help mitigate the effects that the crisis has had on their ability to operate.
The MSP has been contacted by a number of local hospitality businesses who are deeply concerned that they have not received support from the Scottish Government and are on the brink of collapse.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “I welcome the fact that only hospitality businesses in tier four will have to close completely.
“Allowing restaurants to start selling alcohol again in tier two areas, and being able to open at all in tier three, will come as a relief to business owners who continue to face huge uncertainty.
“However, there is certainly no return yet to ‘business as usual’ for these hospitality businesses.
“They will still experience huge revenue losses and it is vital that local authorities and the Scottish and UK Governments work together to ensure that support is in place for those who need it.
There are local hospitality businesses that are on the brink of collapse and assistance must be provided quickly. Locally we can do our bit to try to support them.
“The First Minister is asking local people, especially those who live along the boundary of West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, not to travel between these areas or indeed into Glasgow for all but essential purposes.
“Doing so will only lead to a rise in case figures and will increase the likelihood of transmission.
“I encourage everyone to follow these new sets of restrictions. I know that they are hugely disruptive to our lives and we all want to go back to a sense of normality.
“These tiers are in place to keep us safe and we will hopefully begin to see the benefits of our sacrifices when case figures drop and fewer lives are lost.”
- To help businesses in West Dunbartonshire and the Helensburgh area of Argyll and Bute in their efforts to survive during these pandemic restrictions, The Democrat has made an offer to all venues engaged in hospitality of FREE advertising with no catches whatsoever. If businesses compile an advert with artwork, words and pictures of their food and drink or their premises, remembering to include their address and telephone number so that the public can get in touch with them, then we will run these ads right up to Christmastime and beyond to New Year. Other local businesses, not necessarily in hospitality, are invited to take advantage of this offer. It’s completely FREE with no strings attached and no one will pester you by cold calling unless to clarify something in your advert. Send your FREE ad by e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org We will also, from the beginning of December, offer a Christmas greetings service to all our readers. Again, write a message and send a photograph to email@example.com. It’s FREE too, of course.