New Covid restrictions in Scotland will not be another lockdown, Sturgeon says

6 October 2020, 14:11 | Updated: 6 October 2020, 15:23

Nicola Stugeon has said further restrictions in Scotland will not be another lockdown
Nicola Stugeon has said further restrictions in Scotland will not be another lockdown. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

New coronavirus restrictions to be announced in Scotland on Wednesday will not represent another lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

It comes amid reports of a Scottish "circuit breaker" lockdown being imposed from Friday which could see people restricted to staying in their homes to curb the rise in Covid-19 cases.

However, speaking during Tuesday's press conference, the first minister said the update would not include restricting travel across the country or enforcing a stay-at-home order, although such measures could remain in "hotspot" areas.

Ms Sturgeon told the daily briefing in Edinburgh that schools would not be "wholly or even partially" closed and that her government would not "shut down the entire economy" or "halt the remobilisation of the NHS".

"We are not proposing another lockdown at this stage," Ms Sturgeon said.

"Not even on a temporary basis."

Explained: Circuit breaker lockdowns and what one could look like for Scotland

Read more: Scotland bans visits to other households

The first minister said the Scottish Cabinet, which met on Tuesday morning, had not reached "final decisions" on the implementation of any additional restrictions.

They will reconvene again on Wednesday morning to discuss the measures, followed by Ms Sturgeon giving a statement to the Scottish Parliament later in the day.

However, she said she wanted to give the public an insight into the issues ministers are "grappling with" while trying to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The SNP leader said extra measures were necessary due to public health advice informing her government to go above and beyond the current restrictions.

Scotland is facing a "sharply rising rate of infection again", she said.

Read more: Black History month: Calls for more diversity in Scottish politics

Read more: Scottish students banned from pubs and restaurants

Two more coronavirus deaths were announced on Tuesday, bringing the total number of fatalities in the nation to 2,532.

A total of 800 new cases were recorded and 44 more people are in hospital, with three more patients in intensive care.

Ms Sturgeon said most parts of mainland Scotland now had infection levels that were higher than 50 cases per 100,000 people - recalling local lockdown measures had been introduced in Aberdeen when infections there reached 20 cases per 100,000 people.

"We're also now beginning to see spread from the younger age group of the population into the older age groups," she said.

"Again, the numbers being admitted to hospitals and intensive care and sadly the number of people dying are also increasing."

The First Minister stressed: "The situation is not out of control, but it is a cause of increasing concern."

When a ban on going into other people's homes was announced two weeks ago, Ms Sturgeon said there were an average of 285 new cases a day - but she said this had now risen to 729.

"That shows you how even in those two weeks the situation has accelerated," she said.

As well as considering new restrictions, ministers are looking at if these need to be put in place nationally, regionally, "or a bit of both", Ms Sturgeon said.

She also said ministers were "thinking of how we best mitigate the economic impact of any decisions we take, even within the limited powers the Scottish Government has".

"None of this is easy. In many ways this is actually the most difficult decision point yet," she said.

"When we took the decisions back in March that just focused on locking down to stop the virus, none of the economic and social harm had been done.

"We now have all of that to consider as well, so these decisions have to be very carefully balanced."

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