Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland’s lockdown could get even TOUGHER to save Christmas as she warns coronavirus hot-spots they could be plunged into top Level 4 in a bid to rescue the festive period
- She said areas where cases remain ‘stubbornly high’ could be placed in Level 4
- Told press conference step would be a short, sharp hit to get cases decreasing
- The First Minister said her Cabinet will make decisions tomorrow morning
Nicola Sturgeon warned Scotland’s coronavirus hot-spots they face being plunged into the tightest possible lockdown as she tries to rescue Christmas.
The First Minister said that some areas where cases remain ‘stubbornly high’ could be placed in Level 4 when a decision is made tomorrow, which would see all non-essential shops and services closed.
In her daily televised press conference, she said such a move would be a short, sharp hit to get cases decreasing. It would bring parts of Scotland more in to line with the lockdown currently underway in England.
‘Stubbornly high prevalence means that we might have less flexibility to offer some limited and careful easing of restrictions over the Christmas period which we are very keen to do,’ she said.
‘Moving to Level 4 restrictions for a limited period in some areas, while not a decision we would ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impact, would help us to address both of these concerns.’
The First Minister said her Cabinet will make decisions tomorrow morning about any changes, before she makes a statement at Holyrood in the afternoon.
The First Minister said that some areas where cases remain ‘stubbornly high’ could be placed in Level 4 when a decision is made tomorrow, which would see all non-essential shops and services closed
Ms Sturgeon said officials are considering whether current restrictions are reducing coronavirus rates quickly enough in some areas, ‘particularly in parts of the west of Scotland that have a stable but still stubbornly high prevalence of the virus’
No decision yet on Welsh Christmas
Wales has ‘quite a long way to go’ before finding out what coronavirus rules will be in place for Christmas, its health minister has said.
Vaughan Gething told reporters an announcement on whether families will be able to meet across borders unlikely to be made in the coming days or weeks, with talks between devolved administrations and Westminster ongoing.
He said a recent reduction of Covid-19 cases in Wales following the 17-day firebreak could ‘easily reverse’, which made making a decision about what Christmas will look like difficult.
He told the Welsh Government’s press briefing in Cardiff: ‘Whatever happens with Christmas and the festive season this year, it won’t be like normal.
‘We’re still discussing issues about where we can get to with other governments across the UK on travel, and we’re still looking at the evidence about what we might be able to do around contact.
‘But it does rely on the picture that we’ll see in the developing evidence over the coming weeks, so you shouldn’t expect there to be a definitive statement in the next few days or weeks.’
Today Public Health Wales said there had been a further 892 cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 67,106. It also reported another two deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 2,209.
Ms Sturgeon said officials are considering whether current restrictions are reducing coronavirus rates quickly enough in some areas, ‘particularly in parts of the west of Scotland that have a stable but still stubbornly high prevalence of the virus’.
She spoke about the issue as she revealed Scotland has recorded six deaths from coronavirus and 717 positive cases in the past 24 hours.
The First Minister told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Monday the stubbornly high rates are causing concern as it means there is not the required level of assurance that regional hospital and intensive care services can cope as winter progresses.
She said it is her ‘objective and intention’ to ensure schools remain open, adding: ‘We don’t take lightly issues of school safety.’
The First Minister said she has asked adults to bear more of the restrictions to ensure schools are able to remain open for face-to-face teaching.
She added: ‘Young people have had months out of school already this year and if we can at all avoid it we want to ensure that they don’t have further time out of normal full-time schooling.’
Ms Sturgeon also revealed one local authority will have reduced restrictions in Tuesday’s announcement.
Ms Sturgeon urged people to adhere to local measures, saying: ‘Every time we stop someone, especially someone who is older and more vulnerable, then we give them a chance of living into the era – which is firmly on the horizon – where better therapies, vaccines, testing and treatments will be available.
‘I think that motivation as we are living under these restrictions right now is important to bear in mind.
‘The end is not quite with us but we can see hope on the horizon now that we couldn’t see just a few weeks ago.’
Giving a further update on the daily coronavirus figures, she said the number of positive cases in the past 24 hours is lower than expected and is being examined.
The daily test positivity rate is 8.3 per cent, up from 7.2 per cent on Sunday, and of the new cases, 220 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 136 in Lanarkshire, and 101 in Lothian.
There are 1,227 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, a fall of 14 in 24 hours.
Of these patients, 98 are in intensive care, down by two.
The death toll of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days is now 3,286.
Scotland’s Level 0-4 system, how it works:
As close to normal as possible. Broadly in line with the situation in Scotland in August when the virus was suppressed but still around.
At this level people can meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open safety measures in place.
Household meetings reduced to six people from two households but a reasonable degree of normality overall.
Limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes.
Much of hospitality being closed completely. But restaurants able to be open ‘at least partially’.
Closer to a full lockdown, with non-essential shops closed. But six people from up two households could still meet outdoors, there would be no limit on outdoor exercise for individuals, manufacturing and construction businesses would stay open with safety measures in place.