Deputy First Minister cannot rule out tough restrictions after Christmas

Craig Paton and Laura Paterson, PA Scotland
·3-min read

Tougher coronavirus restrictions after Christmas – including a potential lockdown – is a “possibility” due to a “rising tide of Covid”, the Deputy First Minister has said.

John Swinney said on Thursday the Cabinet will meet as it usually does on Tuesday to discuss restrictions across the country, but could not rule out the imposition of strict new measures in Scotland.

According to Mr Swinney, cases are beginning to rise again, with 99 cases per 100,000 people 10 days ago increasing to 116.

John Swinney
The Deputy First Minister said Scotland is in a ‘rising tide’ of Covid-19 cases (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

“Unfortunately, in Scotland today, we are in a rising tide of coronavirus cases,” he told the BBC.

“The less we do to have social interaction in the period going forward, the better, in terms of stemming the rise in coronavirus cases within our community.”

The Welsh Government announced on Wednesday that tougher restrictions will be imposed on the country immediately after the Christmas easing period, which is due to end on December 27.

Asked if the Scottish Government is considering similar measures, the Deputy First Minister did not rule out the idea of a lockdown or tougher restrictions.

“We’ll have to look at what the forward prospects look like, we’ll have to take decisions that will be sustainable for a period into January and February to protect the public interest and protect the National Health Service,” he said.

Asked specifically if there could be greater restrictions or a possible lockdown, he said: “That could be a possibility, I can’t rule it out.

“We are on a rising tide of coronavirus cases.

“We will be looking, as we always do, at what the outlook is based on the data in front of us, and we have to take decisions, difficult decisions to make sure we protect the public from a highly dangerous virus.”

Mr Swinney also said it is too early to say if areas of Scotland will be moved into higher levels of protection when the Cabinet meets on Tuesday, a session that is not expected to go ahead over the Christmas period, but was announced by the First Minister on Tuesday.

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon urged people to stay at home during the Christmas period.

She spoke as the latest Covid-19 figures for Scotland showed 30 deaths and 858 positive tests in the past 24 hours.

“The fact there is a window of opportunity over Christmas is a pragmatic recognition that some people may not be willing to leave loved ones alone and therefore it is an attempt to put some risk-reducing boundaries around that,” she said.

“Let me reiterate that our clear advice is the safest way to spend Christmas this year is to stay within our own homes and households, and to keep any interaction with other households outdoors.

“We now have a real prospect of vaccination within weeks for many and within months for most. All of us should therefore do all we can to keep each other safe until then.”