COVID-19: Nicola Sturgeon announces lockdown in Scotland from midnight

A lockdown for most of Scotland will be introduced from midnight tonight, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The first minister told the Scottish Parliament there will be a legal requirement for people to stay at home for the rest of January in areas currently in Level 4, which covers mainland Scotland and Skye.

Schools will also remain closed to most pupils until the start of February at the earliest.

“It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year,” Ms Sturgeon said.

She said the increased transmissibility of a new COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK means that Scotland’s current Level 4 restrictions may not be enough to bring the R number back below 1.

“It is essential that we further limit interaction between different households to stem the spread and bring the situation back under control, while we vaccinate more people,” the first minister said.

“In short, we must return for a period to a situation much closer to the lockdown of last March.”

Failing to act further could see the NHS in Scotland overrun with coronavirus patients within “three or four weeks”, Ms Sturgeon added.

“We have an opportunity in Scotland to avert the situation here deteriorating to that extent,” the first minister told MSPs.

“But we must act quickly.”

Scotland reported 1,905 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, down from the 2,464 reported on Sunday. The daily test positivity rate stood at 15%, a small drop from 15.2% on Sunday.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands are the only parts of Scotland that are in Level 3.

Ms Sturgeon said the new restrictions will be kept under review but added: “However, I cannot at this stage rule out having to keep them in place longer, nor making further changes. Nothing about this is easy.”

The schools announcement will mean an extra two weeks of home learning for most children.

The Scottish government had already extended the Christmas break until 11 January, with the original plan for remote learning to continue until 18 January.

Schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers who cannot work from home.

“Just as the last places we ever want to close are schools and nurseries, so it is the case that schools and nurseries will be the first places we want to reopen as we re-emerge from this latest lockdown,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“They remain our priority.”

Updating MSPs on the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said one million people will have had a jab by the end of the month.

She added that it is hoped that the most vulnerable people in the country and those over the age of 50 will have had their first dose by the end of May.

And the first minister implored Scots to “stick with” the new rules as the vaccines are rolled out.

“I know that the next few weeks will be incredibly tough,” Ms Sturgeon acknowledged.

“I’m sorry to ask for further sacrifices, after nine long months of them. But these sacrifices are necessary.

“And the difference between now and last March is that with the help of vaccines, we now have confidence that they will pave the way to brighter days ahead. So – for everyone’s sake and safety – please stick with it and stay home.”

The first minister also reprised the public messaging from the lockdown last March, saying: “Stay home. Save lives. Protect the NHS.”

Courtesy of Sky News

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