Scotland must maintain its guard to keep coronavirus under control, despite “encouraging signs” in tackling the virus, according to John Swinney.
The Deputy First Minister made the comments as he said that a spike in cases in East Renfrewshire has caused concern.
Speaking to STV News, Swinney indicated that case numbers will be reviewed on a daily basis in evaluating whether further action needs to be taken.
It comes as the majority of Scotland moves to level two of Covid restrictions, with the exemption of the City of Glasgow and Moray, with both areas having seen a rise in cases.
East Renfrewshire currently has a case rate of 86.9 per 100,000 – higher than Glasgow’s when it was announced on Friday the city would be kept in Level 3 restrictions.
“We made it very clear when we set out the strategic framework that although we wanted to move down the levels in as unified a fashion as we can across the country, there may be exceptions where we have local outbreaks that we have to take action to strengthen the restrictions,” said Mr Swinney.
“Now, we’ve obviously regrettably had to do that in the City of Glasgow.
“We are looking at the numbers in all local authority areas on a daily basis to make sure that nothing is running away from us and obviously the East Renfrewshire situation is causing some concern.
“And we’ll be reviewing these numbers on a daily basis to make sure that we take prompt, swift action to tackle any spread of the virus because that’s the way in which we’ll be able to maintain and sustain a position of lower restrictions within Scotland if we keep the virus and its prevalence under control.”
Swinney suggested the rise in cases in Glasgow were driven by the so-called Indian variant of the virus.
He said: “We’re at an early stage in understanding some of the most recent data on hospitalisations.
“Obviously, we think that some of the challenge within the City of Glasgow has been driven by the variant of concern that’s emerged in India.
“If that is the case, we need to see what the impact on hospitalisation is out of that particular variant of concern.
“So, we’re watching a range of data – case numbers, we’re looking at hospital admissions, we’re looking at positivity rates, and the welcome today has been the positivity rate has fallen again, case numbers are lower than they have been.
“So, there are encouraging signs, but we have to maintain our guard to make sure we keep the virus under control and the vaccination strategy, which has been very, very successful, is proving to be a very powerful weapon in containing the virus and in providing the public safety and assurance that we require.”
While restrictions eased across the rest of Scotland, pubs and restaurants in Glasgow had their reopening plans ruined as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the city.
Hospitality bosses were left angry by the “eleventh hour” announcement on Friday meaning staff they had hired and the stock they had ordered have uncertain futures with no reopening date to look forward to.
Last week, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the country would move from Level 3 to Level 2, with some island areas going down to Level 1.
But amid a surge in cases in Moray, the First Minister said it was unlikely the area would join the rest of Scotland in having restrictions eased. On Tuesday, a decision had not yet been reached.
On Friday, it was confirmed Moray would remain in Level 3 along with Glasgow as the city became the country’s Covid-19 hotspot.
“It’s outrageous,” said Paul Stevenson, owner of Sugo Pasta in the city centre, “Trading under Level 3 restrictions means we are not making money…without the sale of alcohol and the restrictions of trading hours. Going down to Level 2 gave us a chance.”
Covid-19 cases in Glasgow are rising with the rate now higher than 100 per 100,000 people.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We are looking at the numbers in all local authority areas on a daily basis to make sure that nothing is running away from us and obviously the East Renfrewshire situation is causing some concern.
“Obviously, we think that some of the challenge within the City of Glasgow has been driven by the variant of concern that’s emerged in India.”
Donald MacLeod, convenor of the Glasgow Licensing Forum, said: “What should have been a happy Monday, a manic Monday, is really a blue Monday, a really depressing blue Monday.
“I really feel for them, I think it was a disgraceful decision at the eleventh hour to make by the Scottish Government.”
The city’s health board said eligible residents should have received texts or will have letters soon inviting them to get vaccinated.
Professor Linda Bauld, of the University of Edinburgh, told STV News: “I think the testing is working well. We have a lot of testing. We’re testing more in the UK and in Scotland than most parts of the world. People need to come forward for the testing.
“The vaccines also extending to other age groups, really positive, but that’s not a quick fix. It takes time for that protection to be built up.”
Calum Steele, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) general secretary, said officers who were on the ground told him the violent disorder that followed largely peaceful celebrations was the worst experience they had ever had in decades on the job.
He told STV News: “There is an inevitability that through adrenaline and through being pelted with missiles that officers are going to receive cuts and bruises.
“But when that violence extends to officers being thrown up in the air, injuring their backs, having teeth broken, and further in the west of Scotland, having their arm broken, there are some serious questions that have to be asked about the kind of society we are living in.”
As the crowds of Rangers fans became increasingly disorderly following the consumption of “copious” amounts of alcohol, police in riot gear armed with shields began to disperse them, moving them off George Square.
As they were forced down the city streets, some supporters threw various missiles at officers.
Mr Steele said: “All of those that undertook and participated in the disorder in George Square are absolutely responsible for their own actions. But throwing of missiles, bottles, barriers, fireworks and other pyrotechnics at police officers, you present a real risk to life.
‘We’ll identify far more people that were involved and they’ll be getting a chap on the door in the next few days and weeks.’
Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland assistant chief constable
“When we have police officers, with over 20 years experience, telling me that this is the worst experience, the worst violence that they’ve dealt with in 20 years, I think that’s something that has to be taken very seriously.”
Earlier in the day, one fan is understood to have suffered an extreme injury to his hand when a pyrotechnic he was holding exploded.
“The harm these kinds of projectiles can cause should never ever be understated,” Mr Steele told STV News.
The wounded officers have received medical treatment, one for a serious injury, and Police Scotland confirmed they were recovering well.
Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie said that a full investigation into Saturday’s incidents was underway.
He said: “We’ll look at CCTV, speak to witnesses, [and] police officers that were there. We’ll identify far more people that were involved and they’ll be getting a chap on the door in the next few days and weeks.
“We’ll share the information around the identities of the people we believe are responsible with the club. I don’t think anybody who was involved in that on Saturday night should get anywhere near a football ground again in the future.”
At present, 28 people have been arrested in connection with a variety of offences.
An online portal has been set-up so that the public can send detectives any video footage or photographs of incidents that took place on May 15.
Detective inspector Craig Warren, who is leading the investigation, said: “The public can be confident we are doing everything possible to identify those responsible for the violence and disorder on Saturday. This will take time due to the numbers involved.
“Rest assured, if you were involved in causing this disorder, violence or anti-social behaviour you will be arrested.
“We are reviewing CCTV, video and still images and I would appeal to anyone who may have captured incidents on their mobiles to please get in touch with us. You may have footage that could help us in our investigation and it’s vital we speak with you.
“The Major Incident Public Portal (MIPP) is now available for the public to send any information, photographs or images directly to the investigation team.
“There has been footage circulating on social media covering the events in George Square. If you recognise people involved in these acts of violence and disorder, please let us know. You can contact 101 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Police probe video of Rangers players after title win
In a statement, Police Scotland said they are now assessing the content of the video.
Police Scotland has said it is assessing a video allegedly involving Rangers football players using sectarian language during their league title celebrations.
In a clip circulated on social media, a group of players are seen singing along to the song, ‘Sweet Caroline’, at Ibrox Stadium.
The celebrations came after the club were presented with the Scottish Premiership title on Saturday following a 4-0 victory against Aberdeen.
In a statement, Police Scotland said they are now assessing the content of the video.
The statement read: “We are aware of a video circulating on social media apparently showing Rangers players using sectarian language while celebrating on Saturday.
“We are assessing its contents and will liaise with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as part of our enquiries.”
Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said it is right that Police Scotland investigate and determine the facts around the video.
He tweeted: “I have also been made aware of this clip, if (and I stress if) this clip is genuine then any player or staff member found to be guilty of anti-Catholic hatred should be shown the door by the Club.
“It is right Police Scot investigate & determine the facts around it.”
In a statement released by Rangers FC, the club said that it had sought legal advice and is confident that no criminality took place.
The statement read: “We are aware of a video circulating on social media. It is evident that this video was shared with an adjoining narrative which attempts to discredit our players and the reputation of Rangers Football Club. This highlights the dangers of ‘trial by social media.’
“It is deeply concerning that this video has been taken as genuine and has been shared widely including by some political representatives who should be mindful of their influence and legal processes.
“Our squad is richly diverse. Sectarianism is unacceptable and has no place in our club which is underlined by our Everyone Anyone campaign.
“We are confident that no criminality took place, we have sought legal advice and look forward to cooperating with Police Scotland.”