UK

Covid in Scotland: Curbs of six months ‘more realistic position’

Test and Protect Image copyright PA Media

Scotland’s health secretary has said reports tighter Covid restrictions in England could last six months are “more realistic” than curbs lasting weeks.

Jeane Freeman also warned “difficult decisions” would need to be taken to combat the spread of coronavirus.

She said national restrictions may be necessary to prevent rising cases turning into hospital admissions.

Ms Freeman added family gatherings and parties remain the main catalyst for the spread of the virus.

And she told BBC Good Morning Scotland ministers “completely understand” the concerns of the hospitality sector, amid speculation curfews may be introduced.

Ms Freeman was asked specifically about a potential six-month timeframe of household restrictions – that would include Christmas and last until Spring – as opposed to one that would last three weeks.

She replied: “It is a more realistic position, but we have not yet made all of our decisions about the additional measures that we put in place and how long we believe they will be there for.”

Later, the government’s chief medical officer is expected to warn that the UK is at a “critical point” in the coronavirus pandemic and “heading in the wrong direction”.

Prof Chris Whitty believes the country is facing a “very challenging winter period” and will hold a televised briefing at 11:00 BST.

On Sunday, 245 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Scotland, which amounts to 5.4% of those tested.

No new deaths were reported and there were 63 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19. Nine are in intensive care.

By comparison, 350 new cases were reported in Scotland on Saturday – the highest daily increase since May.

Image caption Jeane Freeman says all options in regard to further restrictions remain on the table

On Sunday Ms Freeman told the BBC’s Politics Scotland there was evidence to show the steep rise in cases had been “blunted” following additional measures in some local authorities in the west – but said there was still “real concern”.

When asked whether the Scottish government would consider imposing similar fines in place in England, the health secretary said the issue needed to be examined “the other way round”.

She added that she wanted to avoid “penalising” those on “fragile, zero-hour contracts” and low wages.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called on the Scottish government to “learn lessons” from the March lockdown and safeguard “anxious” workers.

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross, who has previously taken a stand against Boris Johnson by resigning over the actions of Dominic Cummings, said he wanted to see the Scottish and UK governments work together on issues such as the furlough scheme.

He added that several industries were “still struggling” and he would be speaking to the chancellor to see what could be done for those industries.

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