By Rachel Guy and Polly Bartlett
Nicola Sturgeon has said it would be “foolish to 100% rule out” any further Covid restrictions ahead of the festive season amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
The First Minister spoke out as new travel restrictions were imposed by the UK Government after two cases of the new Covid-19 strain were confirmed in England.
Scotland will also impose the travel restrictions, which will see all passengers arriving in the UK required to take a PCR test and remain in isolation until they receive a negative result. The rule will apply to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status.
Speaking to STV News on Sunday, Sturgeon said: “I really hope we don’t have to reintroduce any further restrictions on people’s ability to live life freely, in particularly on the run-up to the festive season.
“We had a horrible situation last year over the festive season where people were really restricted.
“We all want a much more normal Christmas but we also want a safe Christmas and we want a brighter new year as well, so I hope none of that will be necessary.
“However it’s a foolish leader – a really foolish leader – who stands in the face of a pandemic of an infectious and mutating virus and says that they can absolutely 100% rule anything out because that would be putting the desire to be popular ahead of the duty to keep the country safe.
“My duty, one I take very seriously, is to do what is required to keep the country safe.
‘It’s a foolish leader – a really foolish leader – who stands in the face of a pandemic of an infectious and mutating virus and says that they can absolutely 100% rule anything out because that would be putting the desire to be popular ahead of the duty to keep the country safe.’First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
“I hope in the days to come, the news about this new variant will prove to be less negative and pessimistic as it has appeared over these past couple of days but we will have to wait and see.”
On Saturday, the Prime Minister warned the strain could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines as he announced a strengthening of England’s rules after the infections were identified in Nottingham and Essex.
Sturgeon added: “There have been no cases identified in Scotland so far and as far as I’m aware we have stepped up our surveillance and are making sure we are monitoring this and being very, very vigilant.
“I think it is likely, not definite and hopefully I’m wrong about this, but it’s likely we will see cases in Scotland.
“What I’m asking people across Scotland to do right now, on a precautionary basis, is behave as if this new variant is already here and circulating potentially amongst us.”