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Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Scots able to meet with two other households at Christmas

Last updated: Tuesday, 24 November, 2020, 18:52

  • Scots able to meet with two other households over Christmas
  • 771 positive tests in the past 24 hours
  • 41 further deaths from Covid-19 reported on Tuesday

Midlothian economy ‘on its knees’ over Level 3 decision

Businesses in Midlothian face going to the wall over the "11th-hour decision" to keep the area in level three, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said.  

He is now calling on ministers to provide additional funding for firms in the area after ministers indicated last week it would move into level two, allowing greater opening hours for hospitality.

That was reversed on Tuesday, in a move that local council leader Derek Milligan has branded “absolutely devastating” for the area.

Nicola Sturgeon insisted that an extra £30 million had been made available to businesses affected by the impact of the tiered regime of restrictions in the country.

Mr Leonard told MSPs in Holyrood that businesses in the area are "on their knees”.

“We all accept that the situation can be fast moving and the evidence can move in the wrong direction," he said as he quizzed Nicola Sturgeon.

"But decisions like this one today need to be a genuine co-production involving the locally elected council and the local business community, workers and their trade unions.

“And in Midlothian they have been told for the last week that they would move to level two, including as recently as last Friday. It was only at 10:45 yesterday morning they were told that they may not. And only at 16:29, they were told by the Deputy First Minister that they definitely were not moving to level two."

It means that stock ordered by businesses to cater for extended hours is likely to go to waste, investment in health and safety measures won't be used and and staff re-hired will be laid off again.

"For some business owners enough is enough," Mr Leonard said.

"They are throwing in the towel, they are closing down for good and making staff redundant.

"They simply wanted certainty and they didn’t get it.

“So, in these extraordinary circumstances like those facing the economy and people of Midlothian, Will the First Minister provide additional funding, over and beyond the £30m announced last week, which was to cover the whole of Scotland?

“Will she act to compensate and support these businesses and these working people caught out by this 11th-hour decision?"

Words by Scott Macnab 

BREAKING: Scots will be able to meet with two other households at Christmas

Scots will be able to meet with two other households over five days at Christmas.

After a Cobra meeting chaired by Tory minister Michael Gove the first ministers of the devolved nations, it was today confirmed people would be able to see family over the festive period.

Read more on our story here

Nicola Sturgeon says Ian Blackford responded with ‘grace’ in Twitter row

Nicola Sturgeon has defended SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford over accusations of bullying a photographer on Twitter.

The SNP's Westminster leader issued an apology after he suggested Ollie Taylor may have broken Covid travel rules.

The politician claimed on the social media site that Mr Taylor lived in the south of England, and questioned why he had taken a photograph of the Northern Lights in Caithness. But Mr Taylor said he had moved to Caithness.

Read more here

Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland faces ‘difficult winter’ ahead of Cobra meeting about Christmas covid easing

Read more on our story here

Nicola Sturgeon challenged on testing for family members of care home residents after the announcement was made a month ago on 23 October

FM says it ‘does take time’ for substantial testing plans to go ahead, but the health secretary will give further detail on when family members of care home residents can be tested. 

She said the Scottish Government is looking at lateral testing rather than just PCR which will greatly expand the reach for testing, however at the moment, some testing can’t be done unsupervised. 

‘As the health secretary will show tomorrow, we are making continued progress in expanding the reach of testing,' FM adds. 

Nicola Sturgeon defends Ian Blackford after he apologised for singling out a photographer on Twitter for ‘travelling from the south of England to the north of Scotland’

She said he apologised with ‘dignity’ on the matter. 

Earlier this week Ian Blackford accused a photographer of travelling from the south of England to the north of Scotland after seeing one of his pictures taken in Caithness on Twitter. 

It appears the photographer had relocated to Scotland in September, and Ian Blackford subsequently deleted his tweet and apologised. 

Read more here

Full list of latest coronavirus figures from Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement in Parliament today

Read more here

MSP Richard Leonard said businesses in Midlothian are ‘on their knees’

He challenged the FM saying that businesses in the council area were expecting to move down a level until yesterday when the Scottish Government said it was to remain at level 3. 

He went on to explain how businesses have ‘thrown in the towel’ following yesterdays announcement that rules will not ease for at least another week. 

Mr Leonard asked the FM if funding was available for these businesses, many of whom have had to let staff go and ‘shut down for good.’ 

FM said ‘we have to be prepared to be flexible’ in response to Mr Leonard’s question and said the rise in cases in Midlothian meant it would be a significant risk to let the council area move down a level. 

A £30m discretionary fund for local authorities was announced last week by the Scottish Government and FM has urged businesses in Midlothian to contact their council, which will have received a share of this, to find out about funding. 

Ruth Davidson questions if FM is ‘satisfied’ whether or not most health boards are prepped for a vaccine rollout

FM agrees it will be a ‘great logistical challenge’ for the nation to proceed with and said there are still some ‘significant logistical unknowns.’

She added all vaccines have their own requirements in terms of storage and how they need to be used which will add more of a logistical challenge for the government. 

FM will update parliament on recruitment required for vaccine rollout. 

She said while she is satisfied with the current plans in place, she said it is impossible to make a definitive judgement at the moment while arrangements are still being made. 

‘Although an end may be in sight, we haven’t reached that point yet and we have a difficult winter ahead,’ says FM.

Nicola Sturgeon goes on to urge Scots to follow the current government coronavirus guidelines, including FACTS. 

Any easing of restrictions this Christmas will be ‘temporary’ and ‘limited’, says FM.

‘We will continue to ask people to air on the side of caution,' FM adds. 

Ms Sturgeon went on to say there is a ‘distinct’ possibility that vaccines will start to be rolled out before Christmas and by next Spring the country will be much closer to ‘normal’ life. 

Nicola Sturgeon addresses the nation on keeping safe ahead of Christmas

FM said she is still in discussion with the four nations about the lead up to Christmas. 

She will be taking part in Cobra meeting later today where ‘it is hoped’ the four nations will agree a common framework. 

‘Some measures may differ depending on the circumstance in each nation,’ FM added. 

Jeane Freeman to give an update on testing students before their return home for Christmas in Parliament tomorrow

All students who wish to return home will be offered two Covid tests, a few days apart. 

The testing programme will be underway next week, according to Ms Sturgeon. 

FM confirms health secretary will stand in Parliament tomorrow confirming further details on asymptomatic testing

‘We are working with local authority areas in level four to develop a more targeted testing, geographically, for communities,’ FM added. 

Health secretary is also due to give an update on testing family members of residents in care homes, Ms Sturgeon confirmed. 

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