New coronavirus restrictions ‘could last six months’

Final decision has not been made but new restrictions likely to last longer than local measures.

New coronavirus restrictions ‘could last six months’ Getty Images

Six months is a “more realistic” time frame for any new Covid-19 restrictions to be in place, the health secretary said.

A decision on greater lockdown restrictions being imposed is expected to be made in Scotland in the early part of this week.

While a final decision has not been made, Jeane Freeman said new measures would likely last longer than short-term changes.

The comments come as the Times reported a warning from Downing Street that new restrictions in England could be in place for six months.

Asked whether the Scottish Government is considering a six-month time frame, Freeman told BBC Radio Scotland: “It’s a more realistic position but we have not yet made all of our decisions about the additional measures that we put in place and how long they’ll be there for.”

Previously, when further lockdown measures were enforced in Aberdeen after an outbreak, an initial length of restriction was announced, with periodic reviews to track progress.

The health secretary told the BBC on Sunday that the changes would be announced “very shortly”.

Freeman said the Scottish Government has been forthright with Scots about previous lockdown measures.

She added: “We’re very up front with people about what it is we’re asking them to do and how long we think we’ll be asking them to do that and how often we’ll look at the progress we’re making and report back.

“That will be the case, we’ll give an indication of time frame once we’ve finalised our view on the package of measures.”

The Scottish Government is expected to unveil a number of further coronavirus restrictions early this week after a spike in recent cases, with 245 new infections announced on Sunday, 5.4% of those who had been tested.

The health secretary reiterated calls made last week for the Prime Minister to call a Cobra meeting with leaders of the devolved administrations in a bid to align any measures as closely as is possible.

She added: “If that’s not possible, or there isn’t a Cobra meeting, the Scottish Government will make those decisions quickly and introduce them quickly.”

Freeman said the imposition of restrictions was “complex” and would have effects on various parts of the economy and people’s lives, adding: “But at the end of the day, our economy will be best served the better we are at controlling and curbing this virus and its transmission in communities.”

Asked where cases are being seen in Scotland, the health secretary said the highest prevalence is still from household to household transmission.

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