Sturgeon: ‘No intention now’ to change Covid guidance before Christmas

First Minister says she recognises 'how important clarity and certainty is at this stage' of the pandemic.

Sturgeon: ‘No intention now’ to change Covid guidance before Christmas iStock

Household mixing guidance in Scotland is not expected to change before Christmas, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday.

The Cabinet are set to discuss the latest Covid-19 data on Tuesday and decide whether new restrictions – separate to household mixing – are required in the days ahead.

But Sturgeon said “there’s no intention” on the part of the Scottish Government to change existing advice on household mixing up to and over the Christmas weekend.

The First Minister will update MSPs on the Omicron situation facing the country in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Her statement on Monday came just hours afer Scotland recorded its highest test positivity rate since January this year, with 6734 new coronavirus cases counted in the last 24 hours.

In Monday’s figures, the test positivity rate stood at 15.2%, up from 13.9% on Sunday. The case numbers are also the highest daily figure recorded since September this year.

Sturgeon posted on Twitter: “Cut contacts as much as poss in run up to Xmas Day – helps slow spread & also reduce risk of you catching virus & having to isolate at Xmas

“Keep Xmas/Boxing Day dinners as small as family circumstances allow, test in advance, wash hands, open windows

“There’s no intention now on part of @scotgov to change our advice about household mixing up to and over Xmas weekend – I know how important clarity and certainty is at this stage. However, after the Xmas w/e please cut contacts again/stay at home as much as poss for a period.

“Cabinet will consider data tomorrow and consider whether any further (separate to household mixing) steps required in period ahead. We will also consider what further business support we can provide – I know how difficult our advice is for many, especially in hospitality.

“I will make a statement to @ScotParl at approx 2pm tomorrow with an update on current situation and setting out Cabinet’s conclusions. We will also press UK gov to do more to support business – I was disappointed no such decisions were taken by it today.”

On Sunday, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the amount of UK Government funding Scotland would receive to tackle Covid had been doubled to £440m.

The announcement was made during a meeting with the devolved administrations over the weekend.

The UK Government said the additional amounts were being provided to each government on top of their autumn Budget 2021.

Sturgeon and the First Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland had ramped up their demand for more financial support in the face of rising Omicron cases.

On Sunday, however, Sturgeon said she was checking whether the UK Government funding was “additional”.

Last week, when the UK Treasury announced £220m of funding for Scotland, Sturgeon said the money was cash “being brought forward from money we were expecting in January and had already budgeted for”.

She said that “to the extent it is new/additional”, the Scottish Government will make sure it goes in full to helping business and the overall Covid effort.

In total, the UK Government said it had doubled the amount of additional funding available for the devolved governments from £430m to £860m, with £270m going to the Welsh Government and £150m to the Northern Ireland Executive.

The latest data, released by the Scottish Government, shows no new deaths have been recorded since the day before, but officials said registry offices were generally closed at weekends, which can affect the number recorded.

It means the Covid-19 death toll in Scotland under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains 9,781.

There were 516 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 on Sunday, up 12 on the day before, and a total of 38 people were in intensive care, the same figure as the day before.

So far, 4,372,129 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, 3,993,642 have received their second dose, and 2,561,480 have received a third dose or booster.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday warned people in England to expect new controls to curb the spread of the Omicron variant amid fears the NHS could be overwhelmed.

Following a special two-hour meeting of the Cabinet, Johnson aid they were monitoring the data “hour by hour”.

However, he said the arguments for taking action were “very, very finely balanced” – indicating fresh measures were unlikely before Christmas.

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