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Coronavirus / Wishart makes the case for a Shetland pilot to ease restrictions

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has written to first minister Nicola Sturgeon to promote the idea of the isles being the ideal place to pilot an exit strategy from the current lockdown.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News

The idea was first mooted by local councillor George Smith earlier this week when he suggested that Shetland was well placed to act as a case study for mass testing that would ultimately help the government to ease movement restrictions.

Similar suggestions have also been made by local politicians in Orkney.

Wishart has now made the case for Shetland after Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, reportedly said that the time could soon be right for a geographical lifting of restrictions – such as in some of the Scottish islands.

Wishart said: “Professor Pennington’s comments are encouraging. There seems to be a strong case for Scotland’s islands to test lockdown exit strategies.

“Shetland must be included in that discussion too. There will be important information to be gathered from across Scotland’s island communities.”

In her correspondence to the first minister, she said: “Our locked island community is the ideal place to pilot an exit strategy from lockdown with its population of 23,000.

“As testing facilities will be available in Lerwick this week, there is a view in the community that here in Shetland we should revert to the containment phase, and conduct mass testing and contact tracing.

“Obviously additional resource and testing equipment would be required to increase capacity. With proper evidence, however, this would inform and consequently allow for a phased relaxation of the rules to start to get back to normality, both socially and economically, while continuing to shield the most vulnerable.

“Results from Shetland could inform the strategy for the rest of the country on how to exit from the lockdown.”