Could Scotland get a circuit breaker lockdown? What it could mean as Nicola Sturgeon considers new restrictions

A two-week circuit breaker lockdown could be announced later today

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 9:49 am
Will Scotland have a circuit breaker lockdown? Jason Leitch recommends the measure (Photo by Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images)
Will Scotland have a circuit breaker lockdown? Jason Leitch recommends the measure (Photo by Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images)

Scotland may be about to enter a so-called ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, as transmission of the virus continues to rise.

Speaking at Monday’s daily coronavirus briefing Nicola Sturgeon announced that a further 697 positive cases had been confirmed, before saying that further restrictions may need to be introduced to get the virus under control.

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The First Minister will meet with the cabinet this morning (6 October) and could announce new measures as soon as this afternoon.

The Scottish Sun reports that doctors in Glasgow have been pre-warned that a circuit breaker lockdown will be introduced on Friday at 7pm, with an NHS source saying they’ve been “told to expect it”.

The idea of a circuit breaker lockdown is to interrupt the transmission of the virus, which could “buy Scotland time”, according to experts.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Seven Days, Scotland’s National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said the plan could help to bring the R number down, and that a two week circuit breaker “would buy you 28 days” in the pandemic.

He went on, “Not full lockdown like 23 March - so you might make some choices in there about schools or about further education - but fundamentally a short, sharp shock to the R number.

“You get the R number down, you get the numbers down to a reasonable level and then you can begin to reintroduce some of the things that you’ve closed.”

An additional 875 positive cases were confirmed in Scotland on 5 October. While the number of patients being treated for coronavirus in hospital and intensive care has also risen, there were no new deaths reported.

Mr Leitch mentioned that there was a question of whether a circuit breaker lockdown would be a cost “worth paying” and said of the details of the plan that “it’s not an exact science.”

What are politicians saying about a circuit breaker lockdown?

Mr Leitch’s statement followed comments last week from both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister suggesting that a two week circuit breaker was being considered.

When asked about a circuit breaker lockdown, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said he could not give an “absolute guarantee” that he could rule it out, and later said “there may be a requirement to bring in further restrictions.”

At the daily coronavirus briefing today (5 October) First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the cabinet will be “considering the up to date situation” tomorrow morning.

She added, "Given the numbers that we are seeing it is possible that we will need to do more.

"This is further evidence that in Scotland as it is in many countries - Covid is on the rise again. It is vital that we do everything we can to get this under control.

"I can say that the government will be considering the latest clinical evidence and advice later on today and the cabinet will be considering the up to date situation when it meets tomorrow morning.

"It could well be a number of different things."

What would a circuit breaker lockdown look like?

The circuit breaker plan would likely see non-essential shops and hospitality businesses closed down temporarily, as well as travel restrictions being reimposed.

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How would a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown work for Scotland?

There are also talks of some closures in education too, as Scottish universities have seen a number of outbreaks in recent weeks.

A leaked document which outlines plans for a new three tier system in England lists higher levels of restrictions than have been seen previously for areas classified as alert level three, although schools would be unaffected.