Scotland – No plans for over-70s to self isolate

The Scottish government is not planning to ask over-70’s to self-isolate, contrary to the UK government.

Instead, elderly people in Scotland will be asked to reduce social contact.

Jeane Freeman, Scottish health secretary confirmed the plans after UK health secretary Hancock said potential future measures to force over-70s to stay at home were a “very big ask”, but said it would be for their own “self-protection”.

Asked about whether Scotland would follow suit, Freeman said:

“The additional measures that we’ve always talked about are about reducing contact for those over 70 and in their eighties, asking them to reduce their social contact because they are one of the groups who are most at risk of this virus making them seriously ill.

The other group is people who have underlying health conditions whose immune system is suppressed. It’s not isolation, it’s asking them to reduce social contact.

We don’t want people who are elderly to be stuck in their homes alone not contacting anyone, with their families not able to be in touch with them and to help them. What were saying to them is, reduce your contact.”

The news of the potential isolation of elderly people was briefed anonymously to journalists overnight and has led to criticism over how the UK government is communicating policies and advice.

Overnight anonymous briefings to Sunday journalists are common, but there have been calls for a new approach in light of the pandemic.

Asked about how the news emerged, Freeman said:

“It’s not how we would do it. Government’s should be coming and explaining these things really clearly.

Overnight briefing, background briefing, unattributed sources is not the way to ensure that the public are understanding what we are trying to do and our working with us to do that.”