As protestors arrested...
Judge rejects bid to overturn Edinburgh’s Covid status
Montpeliers was among the petitioners
A judge has thrown out a bid by a group of hospitality businesses to have the level three restriction on Edinburgh declared unlawful.
Scotland’s highest civil court ruled against the petitioners who sought a judicial review of the government’s decision which they claimed went against medical advice.
Judge Lord Ericht, sitting remotely, decided the Scottish government had a right to consider factors other than data.
He dismissed the motion from KLR & RCR International Ltd & Others after hospitality businesses in the city warned of the further impact the measures could have. One of the largest parties among the petitioners, the Montpeliers group, owns seven premises in the city.
Dean of Faculty Roddy Dunlop QC, on behalf of the petitioners, told the judge the level three decision was “flawed” and did not reflect Public Health Scotland advice or case figures.
James Mure QC, representing ministers, said while the data was there to inform the decision-makers he added there was “no simple algorithm” to determine levels and the indicators used “may change over time”.
In his judgment, Lord Ericht said: “The guidance as to how the government will go about its decision-making has always emphasised that the indicators are no more than indicators – they are not the sole criteria for making a decision on Covid levels.”
Mr Dunlop detailed the many similarities between level two and three but highlighted that in the lower level, people can travel around Scotland freely – except for entering level three or four areas – whereas those in level three cannot leave the local authority.
The hospitality industry can also sell alcohol with a main meal in level two and remain open until 20:00 indoors, 22:00 outdoors, whereas no alcohol is sold with the 18:00 closing time in level three.
Mr Dunlop the Montpeliers group alone is losing £30,000 a week, with suggestions the level three restrictions is only helping their establishments “break even”.
Lord Ericht, however, commented that economic packages had been introduced by ministers to mitigate the economic impact of the virus.
Lockdown protestors arrested
About 70 people opposed to the lockdown measures on Edinburgh marched from the Scottish Parliament to Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence in Charlotte Square.
Police Scotland said it was an “illegal march” and arrested four men who are due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
Chief inspector Murray Starkey said : “Today people marched in contravention of legislation.
“We would urge people to find alternative ways to protest, such as online and on social media.
“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, only using enforcement as a last resort.”