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Nicola Sturgeon has this afternoon attempted to clear up speculation in the country about the Scottish Government’s next steps to combat a marked rise in coronavirus.
Having met with the cabinet earlier today and received ‘strong’ public health advice that further restrictions are necessary in Scotland, the First Minister used a briefing to set out what will not be announced when she addresses parliament tomorrow.
‘Let me be clear, we are not proposing another lockdown at this stage – not even on a temporary basis,’ said Mrs Sturgeon.
‘We are not going to be asking you to stay inside your own homes in the way we did back in March.
‘Whilst we have been asking people to think carefully about non-essential travel, especially overseas and I would ask that again, and while restrictions on travel may sometimes be an option and may sometimes be necessary for hotspot areas, we are not about to impose travel restrictions on the whole of the country.
‘We are not about to shut down the entire economy, we’re not about to halt the remobilisation of the NHS – it is vital our National Health Service is there for non-Covid conditions.
‘And apart from the October holidays, which are already planned, we are not about to close schools, wholly or partly. I hope all of that gives some people reassurance.’
However, Mrs Sturgeon said the decisions faced by the Scottish Government now are the ‘most difficult’ so far of the pandemic.
Ministers are ‘grappling’ with the issues, as they try to stem the spread, she said.
The virus is ‘not out of control’ but the situation is an ‘increasing cause of concern,’ she said.
Two weeks ago new cases were running at an average of 285 a day and are now up to 729, she said.
‘The volume of the new cases that we are now seeing combined with the prospect of further increases is the reason the government is receiving – and I want to be very clear about this – very strong public health advice that action over and above the existing restrictions is necessary,’ said Mrs Sturgeon.
She admitted it was ‘possible’ that if public health was the only consideration, Scotland would now be moving to measures ‘much, much closer’ to the type of lockdown announced in March.
‘We have to carefully balance all the different harms being caused by the pandemic so that includes the direct harm of the virus and we must reduce that bit and it is not negotiable, but we must also consider the considerable harm that has been done to jobs and the economy,’ she said.