Home » People In England And Scotland Urged To Take More Lateral Flow Tests

People In England And Scotland Urged To Take More Lateral Flow Tests

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People in Scotland and England are being urged to test themselves more regularly over the festive period.

Anticipating an increase in social mixing over the festive period, UK government guidance on when to take a Covid test was changed earlier on Tuesday, with people in England now being urged to take a rapid test before mixing with others in “crowded indoor spaces”. Previously the public was advised to use lateral flow tests twice-weekly.

Making her regular Covid statement to MSPs on Tuesday afternoon, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, called on the public to make “extra effort” over the coming month and take a test whenever they plan to socialise with others, whether going for drinks or dinner, visiting friends at home or going shopping somewhere crowded.

She told MSPs: “The most precious gift we can give anyone this Christmas is to be fully vaccinated or tested before we meet, hug or spend time with them.”

Sturgeon also announced that, as of 6 December, Scots will be able to show proof of a recent negative lateral flow test result as part of the country’s Covid passport system.

In what Sturgeon said was a “very finely balanced decision”, the Scottish cabinet decided not to extend the passport scheme to theatres, cinemas and hospitality venues, amidst ongoing concerns about the impact on civil liberties and business, and claims that Holyrood has failed to provide convincing evidence of the scheme’s efficacy.

Sturgeon said that renewed lockdown measures across Europe were a “stark reminder that the pandemic is not yet behind us” and that, while the situation in Scotland currently “is more positive than we might have expected” it is “definitely still precarious”.

The Scottish government will intensify its public information campaign as the country approaches the festive season, emphasising that it remains “essential” to get fully vaccinated, take regular tests and wear face coverings in indoor settings.

On Friday, the Scottish government published an evidence paper arguing that – with cases surging across Europe – ministers faced a choice between “closing venues, limiting group sizes and advising people not to meet each other” or “enabling people to meet up in a lower risk way by using certification to reduce the risk that an infectious person will be present in a higher-risk setting”.

Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats had proposed the government should let people provide a negative test result instead of a vaccine certificate, or replace certificates entirely with lateral flow tests, citing the recent Cop26 conference in Glasgow as a successful example of using testing alone.

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The Night Time Industries Association Scotland argued that the recent evidence paper did not demonstrate that the existing scheme has been successful in increasing the uptake of vaccination or reducing transmission.

Last week, a joint survey released by Scotland’s hospitality bodies including the NTIA found that, if vaccine passports were extended to wider hospitality, three-quarters of businesses said they would not survive the winter without further government support, while nearly all would have to cut staff hours.

People in Scotland have been required to show proof of vaccination to enter nightclubs and large events like music festivals and football matches since October.

As rising infection rates in Northern Ireland put pressure on already stretched health services, Stormont ministers strengthened their home working advice on Tuesday, and encouraged the public to limit their social contacts and wear face coverings in indoor settings.

The Welsh government has said that any decision to extend Covid passes – which provide proof of vaccination or a negative test in the past 48 hours – to hospitality venues over Christmas will be made next month.