Scottish ministers are considering far-reaching restrictions to combat the surge in Covid cases including local lockdowns linked to school holidays next month, travel restrictions, closing play parks and shutting down hairdressers.
The measures were revealed in a leaked document marked “official sensitive”, which also shows the Scottish government could issue a “general message” that people should again stay at home accept for essential shopping and exercise and also avoid public transport.
Written by Scottish government officials last Saturday, it also suggests a “rolling lockdown” for different parts of Scotland linked to October’s half-term holidays, so that once schools are closed, the entire area goes into a lockdown.
Schools in a large majority of Scotland’s local authorities close for two weeks on 9 October, while a handful, including Edinburgh, close on 16 October.
It was reported on Friday that Boris Johnson was also considering imposing short-term nationwide restrictions across England, which could include closing pubs and restaurants. Some reports suggested this could coincide with the country’s autumn half-term in late October.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, confirmed she knew about the document, a computer screen image circulated on Twitter, and did not deny it was authentic. She said her government was considering a range of measures, some of which would go live this week and others at a later date.
“Yes, we are looking at a wide range of options and any government that isn’t doing that right now wouldn’t be doing its job properly,” she said during her daily coronavirus briefing.
This has been shared privately with me (thanks!).
ScotGov options for “circuit breaker”. pic.twitter.com/9RqXiBE2mZ
— CovidSenseBloke (@CovidSenseBloke) September 20, 2020
She is due to hold emergency talks with Boris Johnson, the prime minister, on Monday afternoon before all four UK governments announce a new batch of tougher national restrictions on Tuesday. The details in that document are likely to be very similar to the restrictions being considered across the UK.
“I’ve heard about the screengrab,” she said. “I’m not going to comment on leaked documents whether they are genuine or not.
“What I would say is that any responsible government right now will be looking at a whole range of different options. I know the Scottish government is and I’ve indicated today what the nature of some of those would be.
“But we haven’t reached final decisions yet so anybody that’s looking at any documents and drawing a conclusion these are definitely going to happen is wrong, because we haven’t made these decisions.”
“But yes, we are looking at a wide range of options and any government that isn’t doing that right now wouldn’t be doing its job properly.”
The document floats a number of options, which also include:
Asking all universities and colleges to stop tutorials and practical classes, and revert to online teaching only.
Close down hospitality businesses except essential residential services.
Close bingo halls, cinemas, casinos and amusement arcades.
Bar all contact sports.
Restrict visits to hospitals and care homes.
Use places of worship for private worship only.
It is understood these measures could be implemented over the next few weeks, depending on how successful the measures being unveiled this week have been. Similar proposals are being studied by the UK’s other three governments, with many likely to be unveiled this week.