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Stark warning from medic

Leitch reveals restrictions will mean ‘digital Christmas’

Jason Leitch

Jason Leitch: prepare for digital Christmas

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that Christmas will not be “normal” in comments that confirm the restrictions will not be lifted until at least the turn of the year.

Ms Sturgeon, who yesterday extended the current measures for another week until 2 November, was responding to a statement from national clinical director Jason Leitch, that people should get ready for a “digital Christmas”.

Professor Leitch, speaking on a radio broadcast about prospects for easing lockdown over the festive period, said: “Christmas is not going to be normal… we are not going to be in large family groupings with multiple families coming around. That is fiction.

“I am hopeful, if we can get the figures down we may get some form of normality. But people should get their digital Christmas ready.”

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Ms Sturgeon later said at her daily briefing that Professor Leitch was “trying to be frank with people about the reality of the pandemic”.

She said he did not want to give anyone “false assurances” but said she wanted people to celebrate Christmas in as normal a way as possible in the context of a global pandemic.

“Christmas this year probably for no country is going to be normal,” she said, but sticking to the restrictions was the best way of achieving “greater normality”.

However, Professor Leitch’s comments caused a political stir after the acting chief medical officer, Gregor Smith, characterised the media response as ‘twisted’.

Scottish Labour health and social care spokesperson Monica Lennon, said: “Professor Jason Leitch is the face and voice of the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 response, and the public are expected to trust his advice and guidance.

“Two weeks ago, he said a 16-day circuit breaker was the ‘price to pay” to “save Christmas.’

“Today he told Scotland to prepare for a “digital Christmas” which has understandably spooked people

“The words used by Scottish Ministers and their advisers matter, and mixed messages are undermining the national effort.

Monica Lennon

Monica Lennon: ‘people have been spooked’

“Cool heads are needed and the acting Chief Medical Officer taking to Twitter to attack the media, is frankly a distraction.

“Test and Protect is in crisis, so it’s time the Scottish Government cut the spin and focused on getting the virus under control.”

Prof Leitch confirmed that it would a very tough top tier, which would be similar to a full lockdown. He said ministers and their health advisers were still working out which council areas would be put into which tier.

The First Minister will unveil Scotland’s five-tier Covid-19 alert system on Friday.

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