Six months to the day after it was announced that Scottish schools would close, Nicola Sturgeon has said that now marks the most critical moment in tackling Covid-19 since then.
The first minister has warned that “hard but necessary” decisions may be needed in the coming days to prevent another national lockdown, and that coronavirus “could get out of our grip again” as Scotland faces the risk of “exponential growth” of Covid-19.
Ms Sturgeon said: “If we want to avoid another full-scale lockdown – which all of us do – doing nothing almost certainly isn’t an option.
“We have to consider now whether some national restrictions – we have national restrictions in place already, the six-two rule is a national restriction – [but] do we need to have more national restrictions?”
LISTEN: Six months since school closures announcement, what have we learned? Also this week: Was this the day we learned 2021 exams won't go ahead? At the Scottish government's daily coronavirus briefing this afternoon, Ms Sturgeon said: “We need to act to interrupt that exponential growth. “No one wants to see another full-scale lockdown. And above all, we want to keep schools and childcare open because we know how important that is to the education and to the broader wellbeing of children and young people. “We are seeing increasing numbers of places both here in Scotland and across the rest of the UK that are under local and regional restrictions. “The bottom line here is that this virus is on the rise again. Our case numbers are not yet rising as fast as they were back in March but they are rising again, and they are rising quite rapidly.” When taking questions from journalists after her statement, she stated that Scotland was at the most critical point with Covid since mid-March. Ms Sturgeon has called on prime minister Boris Johnson to convene an emergency meeting this weekend to discuss steps to combat the rising number of coronavirus cases. Earlier this week, education secretary John Swinney, who is also Ms Sturgeon's deputy, took questions onvarious aspects of how coronavirus is affecting schools and colleges. One drastic step that looks more likely now is the cancellation of the 2021 Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exams. The latest Covid-19 figures for Scotland show one more confirmed coronavirus patient has died in Scotland, bringing the total number of fatalities under that measure to 2,502. A total of 23,776 people have tested positive for coronavirus, up 203 from the day before. Ms Sturgeon said the percentage of tests coming back positive is rising and the R number is believed to be above 1. She said what is happening in England, where hospital admissions and admissions to intensive care units are now also rising, should be seen as a “warning signal” for Scotland. The first minister warned that the percentage of coronavirus cases in the older population in Scotland is beginning to rise. She urged people to follow all of the current rules and advice “rigorously” over this weekend. “It may well be that if we are to interrupt and break this growth we may need to do more over the next few weeks, and this weekend will be critical in the assessment of how best to do that,” she said. Ms Sturgeon advised people to avoid travelling to parts of the UK that are under tougher restrictions, as well as avoiding non-essential travel abroad, and to also “think carefully about non-essential travel at home”.