People in Scotland may have to wear masks in public places for years to come, Nicola Sturgeon has warned – in spite of the fact that masked-up Scotland has a higher number of cases per 100,000 than England. MailOnline has more.
The First Minister insisted that tough curbs dramatically imposed on hospitality venues and large gatherings from Boxing Day had stemmed the spread of Covid, despite official figures showing that Scotland’s virus rate is higher than England’s.
And furious business leaders said Miss Sturgeon’s “gamble” with restrictions must end after they failed to make “any meaningful difference” to infections in Scotland.
Speaking ahead of today’s announcement about extending restrictions beyond next week, Miss Sturgeon said face coverings “might be required in the longer-term to enable us to live with it [Covid] with far fewer protective measures”.
In England, Covid restrictions could start to be lifted this month after Michael Gove said Britain was moving towards a situation where it could “live with” the virus.
Downing Street is examining options to lift Plan B measures in stages if cases remain too high to remove them all in one go. Extending Covid passes, due to expire on January 26th, would require another bruising clash with Tory backbenchers, which No 10 wants to avoid.
But some ministers are pushing for the WFH guidance to be removed first, arguing that it causes the most damage to the economy.
Miss Sturgeon told STV’s Scotland Tonight: “Sometimes when you hear people talk about learning to live with Covid, what seems to be suggested is that one morning we’ll wake up and not have to worry about it any more, and not have to do anything to try to contain and control it.
“That’s not what I mean when I say ‘learning to live with it’. Instead, we will have to ask ourselves what adaptations to pre-pandemic life – face coverings, for example – might be required in the longer-term to enable us to live with it with far fewer protective measures.”
Worth reading in full.
According to the Government’s coronavirus dashboard, the number of cases per 100,000 is currently higher in those parts of the United Kingdom with severe Covid restrictions in place than it is in England, including Scotland.
Stop Press: Nicola Sturgeon has announced that some Covid restrictions in Scotland will be lifted next Monday, including the ban on more than 500 people attending football and rugby matches, and she hoped other restrictions would be lifted the following Monday, pending a review of the data, including limits on attendance at indoor live events, table service in hospitality businesses, and distancing in indoor public spaces. But anyone wanting to access those events will still require a Covid Pass – and merely being double-vaccinated won’t be sufficient if the second jab was more than four months ago. From Monday January 17th only those who’ve had a second dose within four months, had a booster or uploaded the result of a recent lateral flow test will be able to download a Covid Pass. What’s more, she’s thinking about extending those venues that require Covid certification to include pubs, bars and restaurants.
Stop Press 2: Jamie Blackett in the Telegraph says it’s time to disabuse people of the idea that Nicola Sturgeon has had a good Pandemic.