First Minister: Aberdeen city lockdown is a ‘wake-up call’

Nicola Sturgeon described the public as 'the first line of defence' in containing the virus.

The First Minister has warned the lockdown in Aberdeen city is a “wake-up call” that the virus is still present and “dangerous” in Scotland.

Indoor and outdoor hospitality venues, including pubs, restaurants and cafes, have been ordered to close after a spike in Covid-19 cases.

The five-mile travel restriction has resumed for leisure and recreation, while residents have been told not to enter other people’s houses.

In an interview with STV News’ Kelly-Ann Woodland, Nicola Sturgeon described members of the public as “the first line of defence” in containing the virus, as she urged people to follow public health advice.

‘It’s still infectious. It’s still dangerous and Aberdeen is a really big wake-up call.’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She said: “I think there’s a really important message for the public here… the virus hasn’t gone away.

“We’ve had reducing numbers of cases, we’ve had thankfully reducing numbers of deaths, but it’s still out there.

“It’s still infectious. It’s still dangerous and Aberdeen is a really big wake-up call. People, all of us, every single one of us, as citizens, has a crucial part to play in keeping it under control.

“We’re the first line of defence, so it’s really about complying with all of that basic but so important health advice.”

A total of 79 cases have now been associated with an outbreak in Aberdeen, having been 54 on Wednesday and 27 at the start of the week.

Sturgeon said taking these steps “give us the ability to stamp it out” and “protect the ability to get children back to school next week’.

She said: “We know this cluster in Aberdeen seems to be associated with the night time economy, people going to pubs, and therefore unfortunately closing hospitality for a period is another way of trying to help the Test and Protect teams get a grip of this and stop it spreading more widely but I never wanted to be in a position of doing this.”

School return ‘top priority’

Sturgeon described it as “hugely important” that children young people return to education full-time next week for the first time since schools closed on March 20.

“Young people have been out of school now since March,” Sturgeon said.

“The impact on children’s education, the impact on their wellbeing, the impact on their interaction with peers and friends is not insignificant and therefore my view is that the top priority now has to be to get young people back into education.

“If that means trade-offs elsewhere, if it means being a bit more precautionary when it comes to, as we have done in Aberdeen, closing down pubs for a period in order to protect that then I think that’s the action we’ve got to take.”

Sturgeon said “we need to take great care in schools”, clarifying that the Scottish Government decisions had been informed by scientific advice.

The First Minister and education secretary John Swinney have come under fire this week after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded 124,564 results.

Results were worked out using estimates made by teachers based on the pupil’s performance over the school year. However, the national moderation system meant that many students received lower grades than originally estimated.

The Scottish Conservatives said the government should have “trusted” the teachers’ estimates as they are “far better placed than an SQA moderator to give an accurate estimation of the grade their pupils deserve”.

Responding to criticism, Sturgeon said moderation “is necessary to make sure we have a credible” system of results.

‘Most difficult period’

Reflecting overall on her role leading Scotland through a pandemic, which saw the first case of the virus in Scotland on March 1, Sturgeon said it had been her “most difficult period” as First Minister.

However, she said it was important not to lose sight of the human impact of the situation.

So far, 2491 people have died after testing positive for the virus – a figure which, adding deaths where Covid-19 is suspected, is in excess of 4200.

Sturgeon said: “I try to focus on doing that job as much as possible, be as professional and as decisive as I can be but I’ve also tried particularly during the period where we were experiencing large numbers of people dying every day and every week not to get into the position where the determination to do the job professionally made me immune to or lose sight of the human impact of all of this.”

Sturgeon added: “I’ve not got every decision right and I’ve not got it right at every turn and I will reflect on these decisions… probably for as long as I live.”

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