Nicola Sturgeon: Waiting for four nations approach to Covid-19 restrictions 'not a price worth paying'

The First Minister welcomed the announcement an emergency Cobra meeting will be held tomorrow morning.

Monday, 21st September 2020, 2:16 pm
Nicola Sturgeon has announced new Covid-19 restrictions
Nicola Sturgeon has announced new Covid-19 restrictions

Having all four nations of the United Kingdom impose new coronavirus restrictions would be “good” but “not a price worth paying” if that meant delaying the introduction of measures, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister was speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing and had expressed frustration at the UK Government’s slowness in agreeing a time and date for a meeting of the emergency response group Cobra – a meeting she had called for since Friday.

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During the briefing, it was announced a meeting of the group will take place tomorrow morning, its first gathering since May 10.

Ms Sturgeon said that all four nations, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, imposing similar or the same measures would be her “preference” but said she could not control what the UK Government did in regards to measures for England.

The First Minister is due to speak to Boris Johnson later today, and she said she would “encourage and cajole” him to allow for four nations alignment.

She said: “If we can get to a position where there is commonality with rules across the UK that would be good.

"It is really important that I take the decisions, tough decisions I don’t relish having to take any of these decisions at all, but I have got to take the decisions I think are necessary.

"I have got to take them timeously and not wait too long because there is an urgency here given what we know about the spread of this virus.

"These are the things I am trying to juggle right now but I’m in control of Scottish Government decision making, I’m not in control of UK Government decision making so I can encourage and cajole and try to facilitate that four nations alignment but I cannot unilaterally force it.

"I hope my discussion with the Prime Minister will help to bring greater clarity and at least a greater understanding of each other’s positions even if we end up taking slightly different decisions.”

A decision on new restrictions in Scotland is set to be made in the coming days, with an announcement to the Scottish Parliament likely tomorrow or Wednesday, the First Minister said.

She said it was important that the Scottish Government acted “quickly, urgently and decisively”.

When asked whether she was frustrated at the speed of response from the UK Government, she said waiting several days for four nations agreement would be a price “not worth paying”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I believe we are in a situation now where we have to act quickly, urgently and decisively.

"Giving an extra day to allow four nations discussions, that may be okay, allowing a delay of several days in my view is not a luxury we have right now.

"I would like us to have space for four nations discussions to decide where we can align or if there are areas where we want to do different things to have an understanding of each other’s position. That is perfectly acceptable and would be desirable.

"If the price of that is waiting several days while this virus is spreading quickly, that is not a price I am willing to pay."

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