Jason Leitch: restrictions will be a 'short, sharp shock' to stop surge in coronavirus cases

Scotland's National Clinical Director said the restrictions north of the border will be a "short, sharp shock" aimed at bringing down the R number, which is currently around 1.5 in Scotland, and bringing prevalence of the virus down as quickly as possible.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 9:36 am

Professor Jason Leitch told BBC Breakfast: "About 20 per cent of our cases link back to that kind of pub and hospitality sector.

"Remember, the final thing about the risk here is pubs and hospitality, even mitigated, are more risky than other places because they have an exemption for the distancing so they are allowed to be at one metre distancing and you are allowed to go with two households; so, even mitigated, they are more risky than you in your home just with your own household."

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the Scottish government has toughened coronavirus restrictions further in a bid to slow the spread of the virus during her daily briefing on Wednesday, 7 October.

Jason Leitch left and Charles Douglas Barr drinking outside The Last Drop in Edinburgh, picture by Lisa Ferguson/JPI Media
Jason Leitch left and Charles Douglas Barr drinking outside The Last Drop in Edinburgh, picture by Lisa Ferguson/JPI Media

All pubs and restaurants in the central belt will have to close, both indoors and outdoors, from 6pm on Friday.

The stricter restrictions will apply in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas and are set to affect about 3.4 million people living in the central belt.

Asked what will happen if there is no change after the 16 days for which the restrictions on licensed premises have been put in place, Leitch added: "I'm very hopeful that something will change, that the numbers will begin to move.

"Now, remember, this virus isn't norovirus, you don't know you've got it tomorrow and you're sick - it takes seven to 10 to 14 days to show, so we are not going to be completely out of the woods at 16 days.

"But the earlier restrictions that we've had in households, in other places in the last few weeks, the work we've done in student halls, those restrictions are beginning to show their effect.

"Another three weeks from now, two-and-a-half weeks from now, I'm hopeful that the numbers will have begun to fall, and we're going to do work in this time to just check the guidance, check the mitigations are as strong as they can be, talk to the stakeholder groups, the sectors, make sure we're doing everything we can to allow them to open safely."

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes across other parts of the country are not allowed to serve alcohol indoors from Friday and can only open between 6am and 6pm for food and non-alcoholic drinks.

But liscenced premises in the central belt can continue to serve alcohol outdoors until the 10pm curfew which is still in place across the UK and was introduced last month.

Alcohol can still be served at weddings and funerals which are limited to a maximum of 20 people and can only take place in regulated premises.

The rule still applies that a maximum of six people from two households can meet together in hospitality venues, either indoors or outdoors.

Reporting contributed by PA.

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