David Duguid writes about Covid-19 and social distancing in Turriff

David Duguid's 'Notes from Westminster' COVID-19 news, changes to quarantine rules and social distancing measures in Turriff town centre.

We are now four months on from the beginning of the ‘lockdown’ stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been huge progress since then, with the rate of infection down to such a low level that all shops, restaurants and tourist attractions have opened over the past few weeks.

From what I have seen, the people of Turriff and the surrounding area have stuck to the social distancing rules and are wearing face coverings when shopping.

That has been good to see and everyone deserves credit for doing their bit.

However, in the last week or so, there have been signs that the rate of infection has risen in localised parts of Europe.

As a result, previous government advice that Spain was among the countries considered ‘safe’ to visit without the need to quarantine afterwards has been revised.

I know this will be disappointing for those that have booked or were thinking of booking a holiday.

But, as successful as we have been at controlling the virus at home, it has not gone away, and there have been significant rises in cases – not just in Spain, but in Germany and France.

Whether this is the so-called ‘second wave’ or just a continuation of the first wave is a moot point.

The fact is that there remains a risk and we all must be vigilant.

One thing that has been consistent throughout this crisis has been the level of financial support provided by the UK Government.

On a visit to Scotland last week, the Prime Minister announced a further £1.9billlion in funding for the Scottish Government – bringing the total since the start of the pandemic up to £6.5billion.

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That was in addition to an announcement of £350million for green projects to help the UK reduce its carbon emissions and meet our net zero targets.

In the same week, new figures revealed that 900,000 jobs have been protected by the UK Government furlough scheme and support for the self-employed.

All of this has shown the strength of the UK economy and what happens we the whole country pulls together.

I was also pleased to welcome Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove to the north-east last week.

Mr Gove was in Aberdeen to hear about advances in hydrogen fuel as part of the energy transition, while we also spent time together Buckie meeting with stakeholders to discuss the future for Scottish fisheries after we regain our status as an independent coastal state in December this year.

Now that Parliament is in recess for the summer, I look forward to spending more time here in the constituency.

I will be heading out to visit local businesses – including here in Turriff – to see and hear how our traders are faring and to gauge the impact of social distancing measures.

I have asked Aberdeenshire Council to explain how effective recent traffic control measures on the high street have been.

It is vital that the right balance is struck between staying safe while getting our economy back up and running and protecting jobs and livelihoods.

I very much welcome the ongoing engagement with the council on this matter by Turriff Business Association and others in the community.

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