THE next mobile testing session for COVID-19 will be in Langholm tomorrow and, now, everyone aged over five with symptoms is eligible to be tested.
The Scottish government has expanded the testing regime which previously covered over-65s, key workers and anyone who needed to work and couldn’t do so from home.
Anyone displaying any of the three symptoms: continuous cough; high temperature; or loss of sense of taste or smell can book a test at the mobile test centre in Market Place tomorrow.
To book, go to https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/ or call 0300 303 2713.
If you are concerned about a child, who is showing symptoms, ring 111 to speak to NHS 24.
The extension in testing eligibility comes ahead of the roll-out of the new Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (TTIS)
approach which will be used to keep transmission in communities low as the country moves out of lockdown.
TTIS is to identify cases of COVID-19, find the people they have been in close contact with and ask those close contacts to self-isolate for 14 days to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.
On Monday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined for the first time a route map to bring the country out of lockdown, possibly next Thursday.
The route map is published today and gives a more detailed indication of the order in which the government will gradually seek to lift current restrictions
Ms Sturgeon said: “Like other countries, we are not yet able to put firm dates on all the different phases because timings must be driven by data and evidence.
“It is also important that we assess the impact of measures in one phase before moving onto another.
“We will continue to take a cautious approach to ensure the virus is suppressed, while seeking to restore as much normality as possible when it is safe to do so.
“Within a few days of that, we will allow, for example, more outdoor activity such as sitting in the park and meeting outdoors with someone from another household as long as they stay socially distanced.
“There will also be limited outdoor sporting activities, like golf and fishing, the opening of garden centres and recycling centres and the resumption of some outdoor work.
“This first phase will coincide with our ability to start, on a phased basis, a substantial TTIS operation to help us keep the virus under control as we start to ease restrictions. That part is crucial.”
Two Langholm businesses find themselves in different situations as the lockdown is eased in the UK and overseas.
Frank Steele, managing director of FTS Dyers, now has orders coming back in and intends to dye for two or three days next week with only a few workers.
He said: “It will take a month at least before we’re back at full steam ahead.
“The whole supply chain has been locked down and the high streets are still closed but the internet is still quite buoyant for furnishings and fashion which will help.
“Italy has opened again and quite a lot of my fabrics go to Italy. There is a big consignment in from Burberry which is great for us.
“Social distancing is not a problem in the dyehouse; the machine dyers wear PPE anyway so I’m relaxed about that. We’re used to it.”
On easing restrictions, he said: “My thoughts are that we should do this by region. We’re totally different to the Central Belt where they’re on top of each other.
“I’m optimistic but I think it’s going to be a sad day for some businesses.”
For David Latimer of Latimers of Langholm reopening his business will need more planning and he’s not sure when the shop will be able to serve customers.
He said: “People would have to stay two metres apart and we’d need a screen for the counter.”
The problem would come when his employees had to deliver large items, like furniture.
He added: “They could not be two metres apart if they were carrying an item of furniture, like a chair or sofa.
“We’d have to consider whether we could sell them if we couldn’t deliver them and take them into people’s homes. We can’t just dump something in the garden and tell the customers to get on with it.
“We could probably manage people coming into the shop but would they have the confidence to come in and look around again?
“Some people would be pleased they could get on with things and others might be wary.
“It’s like science fiction. You can’t tell who has the virus until four or five days after they’ve contracted it.”
David believes it could be hard to get people motivated because it’s a long time since they’ve been out and their job prospects look iffy.
“The high streets have been hit really hard. It’s time to hit online shopping with tax. It also puts a lot of vans on the roads.
“One bright spot is that our butchers seem to be doing alright and people are buying take-aways from the hotels and cafes. Other shops are doing deliveries. I hope people remember that.”