Edinburgh MSPs unite to demand fair level designation for the city

A cross-party group of Edinburgh MSPs have today united to express their exasperation at Edinburgh’s unfair coronavirus level designation and written to the First Minister urging her to reconsider the decision to keep Edinburgh under Level 3 restrictions despite virus indicators placing the city within Level 2 parameters.

Representatives from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Labour, the Conservatives and the Greens highlighted that the government’s decision sits “contrary to the recommendations of public health officials”. 

They also stressed that constituents and local business owners are concerned that these harsh restrictions might continue for the duration of the crisis despite their significant efforts to bring infection rates down.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:

“People in Edinburgh have complied with the regulations to the letter. They’ve more than achieved the progress needed to move down to Level 2 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”. 

Scottish Conservative MSP for the Lothian Region Miles Briggs commented:

“This decision is a further hammer blow to saving jobs in the capital, as 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.”

Scottish Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern Daniel Johnson commented:

“We need clarity from the First Minister regarding what advice she received from public health officials on Edinburgh’s continued classification at level 3.

“These decisions must be robust and the lack of clarity as to how this decision was made is undermining public trust.” 

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear First Minister

Your decision to keep Edinburgh in Level 3 of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

We write to you on a cross party basis as MSPs representing the City of Edinburgh. Yesterday you announced your government’s decision to keep Edinburgh at level 3, the second highest classification of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. We now understand that this was contrary to the recommendations of public health officials who had advised you that a move to level 2 would now be appropriate given the continued suppression of the virus in the capital. Edinburgh has existed at level 3 for 2 months and yet we have kept infection rates to level 2 parameters for several weeks.

In your statement yesterday, you stated that your reason for retaining Edinburgh’s Level 3 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 of our parties continue to support the 5 level framework for infection control and the measurements and criteria that underpin it, 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.

Many of our constituents and local business owners are now understandably concerned that Edinburgh will exist in Level 3 for the remainder of the emergency, despite their extraordinary efforts to observe all the rules and bring infection rates down. 

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 2. 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 3.


Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

Daniel Johnson MSP 

Miles Briggs MSP 

Andy Wightman MSP

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