Scotland not facing another national lockdown, FM says

The First Minister is due to give a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday on further restrictions.

Scotland is not facing another national lockdown, the First Minister has confirmed.

Schools will not be closed and a nationwide travel ban will not come into force, Nicola Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon is due to give a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday on further restrictions that will be put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.

She said that the rationale behind any further restrictions would be set out.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s press briefing on Tuesday, Sturgeon stated: “So let me be clear, we are not proposing another lockdown at this stage. Not even on a temporary basis.”

The First Minister said targeted steps will be taken in addition to the current household restrictions, however Scots will not be told to remain within their own homes.

Schools will also remain open – with no plans to close them “wholly or either partially”.

Sturgeon said: “We are not going to be asking you to stay inside your own homes in the way we did back in March.

“And while we have been asking people to think carefully about non-essential travel – especially overseas, and I would ask that again – and while restrictions on travel may sometimes be an option, may sometimes be necessary for hot-spot areas, we are not about to impose travel restrictions on the whole of the country.

“We are not about to shut down the entire economy. 

“We’re not about to halt the remobilisation of the NHS. It is vital that our National Health Service is there for non-Covid conditions as well as there for anything that we have to deal with in relation to Covid.”

The move comes following a further two deaths linked to coronavirus in Scotland.

Since Saturday, there have been 3019 Covid-19 cases recorded across the country.

Sturgeon said the “sharply rising rare of infection” was a cause for concern.

And while rises are “particularly pronounced” in the central belt, in areas such as Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Lothian and now also Ayrshire and Arran and Forth Valley, Sturgeon stated: “Cases are rising everywhere across the country.

“Levels of infection now in most parts of Scotland are higher than we can be comfortable with.”

The First Minister met with the Scottish Cabinet on Tuesday morning, but said they had not reached “final decisions” on what further measures will be introduced.

Another meeting is planned for early Wednesday morning before she makes a statement to Holyrood.

The First Minister is hopeful the restriction on visiting other people’s houses will help curb the spread of the virus.

However, the Scottish Government has received “very strong” public health advice that action “over and above” the existing restrictions is necessary.

Sturgeon added: “We are now seven months into this pandemic. 

“We know the ongoing restrictions have an impact on our mental, physical and financial wellbeing. And I think people, and I include myself in this, generally just find it much harder to cope now with the implications of it all than we did back in the spring.”

Analysis by Colin Mackay:

The First Minister was clear today that we are not facing another lockdown, the main thing they are looking at is the hospitality sector. It’s not the only thing – they are looking at everywhere people meet and could spread the virus.

But let’s take pubs – it was clear when the 10pm curfew came in that the First Minister felt it didn’t go far enough. I don’t think we are looking at a complete shutdown of pubs but ministers have been discussing further restrictions to hours. They have also been looking at Newcastle where households are not allowed to mix in pubs right now.

This is all because the numbers of coronavirus cases are going up – the number in hospital in the last 24 hours up by 44 today. In the week to yesterday, there were 18 deaths from coronavirus in Scotland; there were 18 deaths in the month up to that point.

So this is looking like a more sober October than many people might have planned because new restrictions announced tomorrow look set to come in to force this weekend.

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