New coronavirus restrictions will not be another lockdown, Sturgeon says
Additional coronavirus restrictions to be announced in Scotland on Wednesday will not amount to another lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon said.
The First Minister said the new measures will not include travel restrictions on the whole country – though such restrictions may sometimes be necessary in “hotspot” areas – and the public will not be asked to stay in their own homes.
Speaking at the daily briefing in Edinburgh, she said schools will not be closed “wholly or even partially”, and the Scottish Government will 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.”
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Cabinet, which met on Tuesday morning, had not reached “final decisions” on what further measures will be introduced.
Another meeting is planned for Wednesday morning, she said, before a statement to the Scottish Parliament.
Ahead of the statement, the First Minister said she wanted to give people some insight into the issues ministers are “grappling with” as they try to contain the virus.
She said the additional restrictions were needed as her government was receiving public health advice that action over and above existing restrictions is necessary.
Scotland is facing a “sharply rising rate of infection again”, she said.
Two more coronavirus deaths were announced on Tuesday, bringing the total number of fatalities 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.”