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Coronavirus / First minister announces tough new Covid-19 restrictions but no national lockdown

VISITING other households will not be permitted from tomorrow (Wednesday) as Scotland goes further than England in introducing tough new Covid-19 restrictions.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament early this afternoon, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the ‘rule of six’ would continue to apply outdoors and in indoor public spaces. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the rule.

Other measures include:-

  • pubs and restaurants will have to close at 10pm from Friday;
  • everyone one who can work from home should work from home;
  • people should not share cars with people other than from their own households;
  • a package of support measures for those asked to self-isolate is forthcoming, including practical support as well as £500 for those on low incomes;
  • the key measures of wearing face covering, hand hygiene and self distancing will be reinforced over coming weeks.

These new measures could be in place for as long as six months but they will be reviewed on a regular basis. They come as Scotland recorded 383 new Covid-19 cases over the last 24 hours, 7.6 per cent of the 12,497 tested. There was one death.

The first minister said the number of cases was rising “faster than we can be comfortable with, and we cannot let it continue unchecked”.

She added: “While in recent weeks the biggest number of new cases has been in the people under the age of 40, we now see an increase amongst the older population too.

“Unsparingly in the light of that hospital and intensive care admissions and also deaths are starting to rise as well.

“We can not and must not be complacent about Covid. It kills too many old and vulnerable people, and while for younger people the risk of dying is much lower, it can still result in long term serious health problems.”

She said the tough new restrictions were based on three priorities: “Firstly, we are determined to keep schools open and young people in education. That is vital to the health, wellbeing and future prospects of every young person across our country.

“Second, we must restart as many previously paused NHS services as possible, so that more people can get the non-Covid treatment that they need. Our NHS must be equipped this winter to care for those who have Covid – and it will be.

“But it must be there for people with heart disease, cancer and other illnesses too.

“And, third, we must protect people’s jobs and livelihoods – that means keeping businesses open and trading as normally as is feasible.”

She added that the Scottish Government had not decided yet whether a so-called ‘circuit-breaker’ during the October holidays would be introduced, but urged people not to plan an overseas autumn break.

“Please think of the October break as an opportunity to further limit social interaction and in particular indoors.

“Given that this is a global pandemic please do not book travel overseas for the October break if it is not essential.”

A summary of “what you can and cannot do” has been published on the Scottish Government website here.

Emma Miller. Photo: Shetland News

Emma Miller of Living Lerwick and Shetland Tourism Association said the curfew on hospitality businesses was not unexpected but still “disappointing’.

“The additional restrictions placed on hospitality businesses will put further pressure on an already struggling industry. I think we all understand the need to prioritise public safety and the reduction in spread of the virus; but we also need to ensure our economy survives,” she said.

“Further measures of support will be required for hospitality, and related businesses, particularly with the end of the furlough scheme next month.

“I hope we hear news on that from the Chancellor very soon on the back of today’s announcement, north and south of the border.

“In the meantime, I would encourage folk to continue supporting their local hospitality (and other) businesses prior to 10pm, keeping to the rules and making it safe and enjoyable for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Loganair has also reacted to the changes announced in parliament earlier on Tuesday.

The airline said although no restrictions on domestic travel were imposed it was conscious that some customers choose not to travel given the stricter rules.

A company spokesperson said: ”To that end, customers who have made, or will make, a booking with Loganair up to and including the 27 September 2020 will receive one free date change per booking.

“For any bookings made on or after the 28 September 2020, Loganair will be reducing the usual date change fee by 50 per cent.”

The company added: “As we approach winter months, and restrictive measures are increased, it is important to note that all Loganair flights operate under ‘Simple Steps to Healthy Flying’ protocols – details of which can be found at www.loganair.co.uk/travel-help/fly-safe/.”