Sturgeon 'may go further'
Travel and schools face extended lockdown
Britons are being told not to travel
Travel and education face more weeks of suspension as governments north and south of the border seek new ways to stamp out the spread of the Coronavirus.
Schools in Scotland are expected to remain closed next month after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered English classrooms to stay shut until at least 8 March.
Mr Johnson, who is due in Scotland on Thursday, said there is “not enough data to know when it will be safe to reopen our society and economy”.
He said that in the week beginning 22 February, the government would have more information on whether vaccines block transmission and how the vaccine will reduce hospitalisations and deaths, allowing ministers to plan for the “gradual and phased” reopening of schools.
The UK government has also confirmed the mandatory hotel quarantine. The measure will mostly affect UK citizens and residents, since nationals from most foreign high-risk countries are not allowed to enter British grounds.
UK arrivals from regions with new virus variants will be provided accommodation for 10 days to isolate.
Priti Patel: going on holiday is not a reason to travel’
It will apply to inbound travellers from 22 countries including South Africa, several parts of South America and Portugal because of its ties with Brazil.
The Home Secretary Priti Patel warned those planning “fake work” jaunts and influencers heading for sunny destinations will be turned away from airports.
“Going on holiday is not a valid reason to travel,” she said.
Scotland could go further
Scotland could introduce even tougher quarantine rules for international travellers, the First Minister said.
Nicola Sturgeon said she was “concerned the proposal does not go far enough”.
Scotland will “initially emulate” the UK government measures, she said.
But further Scottish rules will be set out next week if the four nations do not reach an agreement on a UK-wide approach – which Ms Sturgeon said would be preferable.
She said: “Our best route back to greater domestic normality right now, as we continue with the vaccine programme, is firstly to suppress the virus here to as low as level as possible – as we did over the summer – then give ourselves a better chance of controlling it through test and protect, and next by doing much more than we did last year to protect our borders.”
Ms Sturgeon said people “might not be able to go on holiday overseas” in order to “get domestic normality” back.
The FTSE 100 fell almost 90 points as traders feared lockdown would have a sustained hit on demand.
Scotland’s economy for November was 7.1% smaller than it was pre-COVID-19, while over the same period the UK economy has shrunk by 8.5%, according to the latest official data.
Forecasting from KPMG’s Economic Outlook suggests that the Scottish economy could grow by 3.9% in 2021, which is slightly behind the growth forecast across the UK as a whole.
This assumes a gradual easing of restrictions and falling infection rates over the course of this year seeing a return to normality by the Autumn, and is followed with forecast GDP growth of 5.7% in 2022.