Level-four coronavirus lockdown ‘tough but necessary’

Glasgow, its surrounding areas and West Lothian will go into the highest tier of the Covid alert system.

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Moving 11 council areas into a level-four lockdown was a “tough but necessary” decision, the First Minister has said.

Glasgow, its surrounding areas and West Lothian will move into the highest tier of the Covid alert system at 6pm on Friday.

Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will all have to close for at least three weeks, and it will be against the law to travel in and out of level three and four areas.

Sturgeon was speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, when she announced 54 deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus had been registered in the past 24 hours.

She reiterated that the decision to use level four for the first time was made to tackle the spread of Covid-19, as well as to ensure that hospitals do not become overwhelmed and to increase the chances of families being able to meet at Christmas.

And she said work was being done across the UK to allow people to meet for the festivities.

Sturgeon said: “We are all desperate for some normality around Christmas and I absolutely include myself in that.

“The Scottish Government right now is working very closely and well with the other UK nations to try to agree a way for that to happen – we want to have the same position across the UK given family patterns that exist.

“But we know that people coming together when a virus is circulating will increase the risks of it spreading.”

Sturgeon was also asked about schools being open, amid growing pressure from teaching unions to close them in level-four areas.

But the First Minister said the benefits of keeping pupils in class “outweighed” the impact on the spread of coronavirus.

She outlined the details of a new report from Public Health Scotland, which showed that three-quarters of all schools did not report a single case of Covid-19 in the first nine weeks of this term.

In total, 1621 pupils tested positive for the virus during that period, the equivalent of 0.2% of the total cohort.

Sturgeon said: “While we will continue to listen carefully to all concerns, these findings do reinforce our view that, at this time, the benefits young people gain from being in school outweigh the overall impact on transmission rates.”