Nicola Sturgeon to make Covid statement amid rising case numbers

The First Minister will address MSPs as plans to lift remaining legal rules are due to take place on March 21.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to make Covid statement amid rising case numbers across Scotland Scottish Parliament TV

The First Minister is set to give an update on the coronavirus pandemic amid rising case numbers, as the opposition urges her not to backtrack on relaxing restrictions.

Last month, Nicola Sturgeon announced the remaining legal rules, including the requirement to wear face masks in shops and on public transport, would be lifted on March 21.

It comes almost two years on from the announcement of the country’s first lockdown on March 23, 2020.

Sturgeon will deliver a Covid update in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday after Scotland recorded the highest number of people in hospitals with coronavirus in 13 months.

There were 1805 people in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 142 on the previous day, according to latest figures.

Almost 300,000 people in Scotland are likely to have had coronavirus last week, the equivalent of one in 18, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Scotland’s chief medical officer has said record Covid infection levels were being “scrutinised intensely”.

On Monday, Professor Sir Gregor Smith said ministers will make a decision on whether to go ahead with lifting the face mask requirement shortly.

He added they would be advised to take a “cautious approach”.

Current legal requirements on the use of face coverings, the collection of customer details for contact tracing purposes, and for businesses, service providers and places of worship to follow Covid guidance are expected to be dropped on March 21.

All remaining coronavirus travel measures including passenger locator forms will end on Friday in a move to make foreign holidays easier despite the rise in UK coronavirus cases, transport minister Grant Shapps said.

The Scottish Conservatives health spokesperson, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said Scotland must follow England in removing the remaining blanket restrictions in favour of allowing individuals to take personal responsibility.

“The First Minister must not use the rise in infection rates as an excuse to kick the can further down the road,” he said.

“The last remaining Covid restrictions must end, as planned, next Monday.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said although progress towards normality was welcomed, it was clear the country was “not out of the woods yet”.

“Covid cases are increasing and are stubbornly high and our NHS remains under extreme pressure,” she said.

“For too long, the SNP government has turned its back on staff and patients as our NHS remains in crisis.

“This cannot continue. We need Test and Protect to continue to operate; testing to remain free and for anti-virals to quickly reach those who are immuno-suppressed in the coming months.”

On Friday, Nicola Sturgeon warned Scots “Covid hasn’t gone away” as she urged people to keep taking “sensible precautions”, such as wearing a face covering.

Access to lateral flow and PCR tests will continue to be free of charge, the Scottish Government said.

However, a transition plan on the future of Scotland’s test and protect programme is expected to be published later this month.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code