Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie believes a premature end to the coronavirus lockdown would be a “catastrophic mistake”.
And he has insisted any change to lockdown must be based on “sound health reasons” as he backed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to extend the current restrictions by another three weeks.
With Boris Johnson not making a statement until Sunday, there is the possibility Scotland will have different rules in place compared with other parts of the UK.
Ms Sturgeon insisted she would “not be pressured” by the prime minister into lifting measures prematurely, in case it led to a second spike of coronavirus, adding that the decisions were “a matter of life and death”.
Mr Hosie, who was joined by Dundee City Council leader John Alexander for a video interview with the Tele, said that it was key any decision was based on scientific evidence, and in particular the rate at which infection was spreading in Scotland – known as the R-number.
He said: “Clearly if we can maintain a four-nation approach then that’s sensible and a good thing to do. But if the health conditions are different, if the R-number is different, then it might make sense to do things slightly differently, or at a different pace, when we come to ending the lockdown.
“I think the key thing is, whatever is done and whoever takes the decisions, let’s make sure it’s made on good, sound health reasons and we don’t put lives at risk.”
Addressing whether he knew what to expect from Boris Johnson’s announcement, Mr Hosie added: “No, I don’t. All I can say is, I hope whatever he does is based on the science, is based on the R-number.
“He must not, whatever else he does, respond to the lurid headlines in the right-wing newspapers, demanding an end to the lockdown.
“Because, the truth is, most people – the polling numbers would evidence this – are quite content with the lockdown, so long as it is being done for the right reasons.
“I think to end this early, before we’ve got it under control, would be a catastrophic mistake and I hope he doesn’t do that.”
Meanwhile, the SNP MP said that while there were measures being explored for some children to return under strict or necessary circumstances, it was very likely there would be no “general return” for all school pupils before August.
He said: “If you look at what the cabinet secretary for education has been saying, John Swinney, they’re certainly looking at options (for) kids transitioning between primary school and secondary school; perhaps older pupils who are studying for exams; certainly vulnerable children – all of this stuff is in the mix.
“But, it’s got to be done carefully, social distancing must be in place, there has to be the deep cleaning of schools.
“I think the one thing that we can pretty confident about is there will be no general return to school before the summer.”
Asked about how he thought city constituents would feel, Councillor Alexander said: “I think the overall concern for constituents in Dundee is the health and wellbeing of their children, quite frankly.
“As a parent of two young under-fives, my children will be in nursery from August onwards. My overriding concern is to protect them and that’s going to be the same for constituents across the board.
“Everyone is going to want to be in a position where there is certainty, in the sense that if they send their children into a school, whether that’s nursery, primary or secondary, or even a university, then they want to make sure that there are mechanisms in place to protect them and to mitigate any potential spread or resurgence of the virus.
“I understand that it’s very challenging, particularly perhaps if you’ve got older children in the home schooling. Maybe they’re out of their comfort zone, but I think that’s secondary to the overriding concern regarding the welfare of their child.”
Mr Alexander said that council officers were preparing for several possible eventualities, including phased returns for some pupils and shift patterns for staff.
He added that any decision would always be made with the welfare of pupils and staff in mind.