No Covid easing

Scotland in lockdown until mid-February

Nicola Sturgeon: position is precarious

Scotland’s lockdown will remain in place until at least mid-February after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted clearer evidence that the virus was on a “downward trajectory.”

The announcement is likely to dismay parents who are coping with home schooling as well as having to work from home.

The whole Scottish mainland and several islands have been under the highest level of restrictions since early January, with schools and many businesses closed. It had been hoped that the measures may be lifted at the end of this month.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs at Holyrood that there could be a phased return to school openings and transmission rates appeared to be declining, but added: “We are still in a very precarious position.”

There were now 30% more people in hospital compared to the peak of the previous wave.

She said: “We need to see these trends continue, to be more certain that this phase of the epidemic is now on a downward trajectory.

“And second, we need to be realistic that any improvement we are seeing is down, at this stage, to the fact that we are staying at home and reducing our interactions.

“Any relaxation of lockdown while case numbers, even though they might be declining, nevertheless remain very high, could quickly send the situation into reverse.”

There are concerns that the lockdown measures in England will need to stay in place beyond March, with Boris Johnson saying the situation remains “serious” despite good progress on vaccinations.  

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