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Inquiry to explore impact of four-nations COVID plan on Scotland

The Scottish Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into coronavirus in Scotland and the effectiveness of the four-nations approach in tackling the pandemic.

The inquiry will commence with an evidence session with the Secretary of State for Scotland on Thursday afternoon. It will then hear from health officials, UK and Scottish scientific advisors, the Scottish Government and key sectors in Scotland.

The four-nations approach set out how the UK Government and devolved administrations would work together to manage the pandemic, and how the public can support these policies. The inquiry will examine how it has worked in practice in Scotland.

Although there has been a high degree of cooperation, there have been some differences in policy pursued by different governments. This week the Scottish and UK Governments’ diverged in their approach to easing restrictions around lockdown. The Scottish Government decided to stick with “stay at home” advice, while the UK Government moved towards a “stay alert” message. The inquiry will explore the possible implications of divergence particularly around the easing of restrictions.

The inquiry will also look at the ongoing impact the virus is having on vital Scottish interests including the economy, immigration, oil and gas, and the food and drink industries.

Pete Wishart MP, chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee said: “The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest public health issue that Scotland has ever confronted taking its toll on individuals and businesses nationwide. The UK Government and devolved administrations came together to confront this crisis and the 4 nations approach has been the foundation of how the pandemic has been tackled. Our inquiry will scrutinise how this four-nation approach has operated and examine its effect on operational issues in Scotland.

 “As we consider leaving lockdown we will examine the increasing divergence in policy and messaging and consider what impact this will have on the Scottish public.

 “Our inquiry on Coronavirus and Scotland will address these concerns, assessing the assumptions around the design of the Action Plan taking expert advice and evidence from all sectors in Scotland. We will also be looking at support arrangements from the UK and Scottish Governments for businesses and key sectors.”