School reopening plans and tighter quarantine to be unveiled

First Minister to provide update on latest steps the government will take to combat the spread of Covid-19.

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The latest plan for the reopening of schools and nurseries will be revealed on Tuesday when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon provides an update on Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions.

Schools are closed to the majority of pupils until at least the middle of February.

While the Scottish Government has already said the current restrictions will last for another two weeks, the First Minister said it would provide some detail on “other steps we are planning to take”.

She stressed that “the current lockdown is working”, saying the number of infections was falling.

But she added: “That said, case numbers are still high, too high, much higher than we would want them to be, so we need to get them down further – then we need to keep them as low as possible.”

Sturgeon was speaking as Scotland recorded another six deaths of coronavirus patients and 848 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 6112.

There are 1958 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, up 17 in 24 hours.

Of these, the number of patients in intensive care remains unchanged at 143.

Sturgeon’s statement in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday will set out how Scotland intends to go further than measures already proposed by the UK for quarantine hotels.

The First Minister also reiterated her view that hotel quarantine measures being considered by the UK Government are not stringent enough.

Sturgeon said: “We have already agreed, with other countries across the UK, to introduce supervised quarantine from some countries.

“However, in our view, the current UK-wide proposals don’t go far enough, so tomorrow we will provide some more information about the extent to which we intend to operate supervised quarantine here in Scotland.”

The First Minister said the vaccine rollout is the “most important tool we have at our disposal” but warned of the threat posed by new variants.

Mass vaccination centres opened in Edinburgh and Aberdeen on Monday morning, as the Scottish Government moves onto the next phase of its Covid-19 vaccination programme.

People aged 70 and over will now start to get their vaccines – with two new centres initially able to administer 27,000 jabs a week.

Sturgeon said a total of 575,897 people in Scotland had received their first dose of the vaccine including 80% of those aged over 80 in the community.

She also said the aim is to vaccinate all over 70s by the middle of February, as well as many over 65s.

But the Scottish Conservatives said Monday’s vaccination figures “are the lowest yet” and said the “SNP’s slow Covid-19 vaccine rollout continues to lag miles behind the rest of the UK”. 

On Sunday, just 9628 patients received their first vaccine dose – the fewest since the Scottish Government began publishing figures on January 11.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The SNP are failing to deliver a seven-day service and the First Minister seems to have no plans for getting the vaccine out to GPs faster.

“For the second Sunday in a row, delivery has been a shambles and vaccine figures have fallen off a cliff. 

“All care homes south of the border have now been offered the vaccine, so the First Minister’s primary excuse has vanished. 

“Finally opening the mass vaccination centres will help – but why are the same problems happening week after week, without being fixed?”