January lockdown for Scotland as Covid cases rise
Virus warnings are a concern for businesses (pic: Terry Murden)
UPDATED 5 JAN: Most of Scotland has been placed into a stay-at-home lockdown for the month of January similar to the restriction which was imposed last March.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon imposed a legally enforceable order across the country from midnight on Monday.
She said the current level four restrictions are not sufficient to deal with the crisis.
Businesses which provide essential services can continue to operate, including agriculture and food production, activity to maintain the food supply chain, energy and transport.
Outdoor workplaces, construction, manufacturing, veterinary services and film and TV production can remain open. Home visits by tradespeople should only be for essential services.
Holidays will be curtailed under the new lockdown rules restricting international travel to “essential reasons”.
Reports suggest that travellers arriving in the UK could have to present a negative Covid test before they are allowed to enter the country.
Ministers are said to be looking at introducing measures requiring the tests be taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.
Only hauliers will be exempt from the latest condition of entry to the UK, if it is introduced.
Schools in Scotland will remain shut until 1 February in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease. Professional sport will continue.
Colleges and universities can operate using a more restricted mix of face-to-face and distance learning.
Exercise and essential journeys will be the only reasons why people will be allowed to leave their homes, but there will be no limit on frequency as last year.
There will be a limit, however, on the number of people who can meet outdoors.
From Tuesday a maximum of two people from up to two households will be able to meet outside their homes.
Children aged 11 and under will not be counted in that limit, and they will also be able to play outdoors in larger groups, including organised gatherings.
Nicola Sturgeon making her announcement today
People will be expected to work from home where possible.
“Businesses have shown an ability to adapt and I am grateful to them for that,” said Ms Sturgeon. Financial support will continue to be available, she said.
Places of worship will close, but 20 people will be allowed to attend funerals and a maximum of five people will be allowed at weddings.
Professional sport can continue behind closed doors, though there was criticism of Celtic‘s planned trip to a training camp in Dubai, which also conflicts with expected restrictions on international travel.
Ms Sturgeon made her announcement during a recalled parliament and following a meeting with her Cabinet this morning.
Boris Johnson later announced that England will plunge into a national lockdown even tougher than last March.
Boris Johnson: u-turn on schools
Just a day after he said children should be sent back to school, the Prime Minister declared that primary and secondary schools will be shut from Tuesday until at least the February half-term.
Teaching unions appealed for schools to be shut down despite Mr Johnson’s preference for them to stay open.
University students are being told to stay at home and study remotely, while exams are unlikely to go ahead as planned. Non-essential retail, gyms and all hospitality will close across the country.
Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening last year’s measures, they will not be allowed to serve alcohol.
In Scotland, a rise in cases has been driven by the new variant and was “extremely serious”, said Ms Sturgeon.
A further 1,905 people have tested positive for Covid-19, 15% of the 13,810 new tests carried out yesterday.
That is a lower number of new cases but positivity rates remain very high.
No new deaths were reported today but the first minister says 289 deaths have been recorded in the daily figures since she last updated Parliament.
The latest developments come as the first Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccinations are due to begin in Scotland just a week after the vaccine was approved by regulators.
Ms Sturgeon warned on Friday that the next few weeks could be the most dangerous period for Scotland since March in the fight against Covid.
Figures for hospital admissions and deaths over the holiday weekend will not be published until Tuesday.
The Scottish government’s emergency resilience committee heard on Saturday that “quick and decisive action is needed”.