Nearly two million people in west Scotland could face the harshest Level 4 restrictions later this week, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set to announce her decision today.
On Monday, Ms Sturgeon said at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing that rates in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire health board areas are ‘stubbornly high’.
The First Minister suggested a ‘limited period’ of the strictest measures – moving from Level 3 to Level 4 – could allow an easing around Christmas.
On Monday, Ms Sturgeon said at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing that rates in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire health board areas are ‘stubbornly high’
Ms Sturgeon said officials are considering whether current restrictions are reducing coronavirus rates quickly enough in some areas, ‘particularly in parts of the west of Scotland that have a stable but still stubbornly high prevalence of the virus’
The First Minister suggested a ‘limited period’ of the strictest measures – moving from Level 3 to Level 4 – could allow an easing around Christmas
Scotland’s Level 0-4 system, how it works:
As close to normal as possible. Broadly in line with the situation in Scotland in August when the virus was suppressed but still around.
At this level people can meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open safety measures in place.
Household meetings reduced to six people from two households but a reasonable degree of normality overall.
Limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes.
Much of hospitality being closed completely. But restaurants able to be open ‘at least partially’.
Closer to a full lockdown, with non-essential shops closed. But six people from up two households could still meet outdoors, there would be no limit on outdoor exercise for individuals, manufacturing and construction businesses would stay open with safety measures in place.
She said the prevalence of the virus is causing concern and could mean regional hospital and intensive care services may not be able to cope as winter continues.
‘Stubbornly high prevalence means that we might have less flexibility to offer some limited and careful easing of restrictions over the Christmas period which we are very keen to do,’ she said.
‘Moving to Level 4 restrictions for a limited period in some areas, while not a decision we would ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impact, would help us to address both of these concerns.’
Under the toughest restrictions, non-essential shops will be closed, along with bars, restaurants, hairdressers and visitor attractions.
Schools will remain open, however, with the First Minister saying on Monday it is her ‘objective and intention’ to ensure they do not close.
The First Minister also told the briefing that restrictions in at least one local authority area will be eased, although she did not say where.
The announcement, expected in Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon, comes after Deputy First Minister John Swinney said on Sunday that increased restrictions in the west are ‘not inevitable’.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie urged the First Minister to put the decision before Holyrood in a full debate, with MSPs then able to vote on the move before it is put in place on Friday.
He said: ‘Level 4 is the equivalent of a lockdown with the closure of most of the High Street.
‘It is therefore only right that if such a major change is to be implemented it must have the explicit support of the Scottish Parliament.
‘That is important as we need full transparency on the reasons for the change to so many people’s lives.’
‘Devolution was a big mistake’: Boris Johnson says handing more powers to Scotland was a ‘disaster’
- Devolution has been a ‘disaster’ and biggest mistake made by Tony Blair, PM said
- The Prime Minister made the controversial comments in a Zoom call with MPs
- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon immediately seized on the comments
The Prime Minister made the controversial comments in a Zoom call with MPs for northern England.
Scottish First Minister
Devolution has been a ‘disaster’ and was the biggest mistake made by Tony Blair when he was PM, Boris Johnson told colleagues
Sources close to Mr Johnson last night tried to limit the damage by insisting that he was referring to the fact devolution has been ‘used by separatists and nationalists to break up the UK’.
But Downing Street did not deny the comments.
Mr Johnson’s remarks came in a call with 60 MPs which he made in self-isolation.
He said: ‘Devolution has been a disaster north of the border.’ He added that it was former Labour prime minister Mr Blair’s ‘biggest mistake’ when it was introduced in the late 1990s.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon immediately seized on the comments to make the case for independence
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross last night insisted devolution has not been a disaster, but the SNP’s obsession with independence has been.
Mr Johnson also told MPs that he did not currently ‘see a case’ for handing down more powers from Westminster to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, a No10 source said: ‘The PM has always supported devolution, but Tony Blair failed to foresee the rise of separatists in Scotland.
‘And leaving the EU means we must strengthen and protect the UK economy with the UK Internal Market Bill. Devolution is great – but not when it’s used by separatists and nationalists to break up the UK.’
The Prime Minister made the controversial comments in a Zoom call with MPs for northern England. Pictured: Mr Johnson after he was instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
Mr Johnson’s intervention comes days before the Scottish Conservative conference is due to get under way.
Mr Ross said: ‘Devolution has not been a disaster. The SNP’s non-stop obsession with another [independence] referendum – above jobs, schools and everything else – has been a disaster.’
Miss Sturgeon said on social media: ‘Worth bookmarking these PM comments for the next time Tories say they’re not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament or, even more incredibly, that they support devolving more powers. The only way to protect and strengthen the Scottish Parliament is with independence.’ Mr Ross is due to use the Scottish Tory virtual conference, which begins on Friday, as the launchpad for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections following bleak recent polling for the party.
Boris Johnson said devolution was former Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s ‘biggest mistake’ when it was introduced in the late 1990s’
Earlier this month, he said the Prime Minister may be the reason support for independence has soared in recent polls.
Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said: ‘This confirms that Boris Johnson doesn’t believe in devolution and would put the future of the United Kingdom at risk.’
He added: ‘Devolution is one of Labour’s proudest achievements and we will always fight for a strong Scotland in the UK. Scotland deserves better than two governments obsessed by division – Labour will work to bring our country together.’
Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said: ‘This confirms that Boris Johnson doesn’t believe in devolution and would put the future of the United Kingdom at risk’
Mr Johnson has ruled out a second referendum on Scottish independence following the 2014 vote, in which breaking away from the UK was backed by just 44.7 per cent of Scots.
Miss Sturgeon has called for another referendum if the SNP win the elections next May.