“Covid testing in Scotland will continue free of charge, but UK government clarity is needed,” says John Sweeney.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, said the Scottish government “needs to have four-country clarity” on how testing will be approached across the UK.

Mr Swinney said before it was given he could not explain how the Scottish government would fund any mass testing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not fund further testing beyond April and indicated that the Scottish government would have to pay to continue free testing.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said testing in Scotland will continue “free of charge” but clarity is needed on funding from the UK government (Photo: Geoff J. Mitchell).

In Scotland, the Vaccine Passport will expire on Monday and the rest of the measures, including the use of face masks, will be lifted on 21 March. However, wearing masks in shops and on public transport will continue to be encouraged.

The Deputy First Minister told BBC Good Morning Scotland that the Scottish government believes testing should be free of charge and a final financial settlement from the UK government needs to be clarified.

Mr Swinney told the program on Wednesday: “The UK says it wants to support the intelligence that requires them to detect the emergence of new strains of the virus, they want to do enough testing to be able to act if stronger health protection measures are needed.” population.

“This approach sounds to me like it requires continued testing in England of decisions made by the prime minister and his colleagues on a certain basis, and we need to understand the financing of all this.

“If the Treasury allocates more money to this provision, then obviously there will be financial implications for us.”

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In March, the Scottish government will present a transition plan that will clarify the “circumstances and conditions” of how and when people should access testing.

Mr Sweeney said it is likely that the plan will include a combination of lateral flow testing and PCR testing.

The Deputy First Minister said that access to tests through local pharmacies would depend on negotiations with the UK government and the availability of resources.

Scottish Labor has criticized the Scottish government for its lack of clarity on testing plans.

Jackie Bailey said: “The First Minister needs to let us know now if she is going to fund testing and contact tracing to protect the Scots.”

During her speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon expressed her disappointment with the UK government’s stance on testing, saying there was “no clarity”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Current funding arrangements mean that while taxpayers in all 4 UK countries contribute to the costs, it is the decisions made for England that determine the resources available to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for testing and other Covid measures. .

“We are not clear on how much of the Covid testing infrastructure the UK government intends to keep; there is no clarity on how much investment will support it in the future; and it is not clear whether the Treasury will provide additional resources to pay for it, or instead require funding to be taken from other sources of the health budget.”

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