Nicola Sturgeon's lockdown levels announcement speech in full

Here is the First Minister’s full speech announcing where the levels of the new lockdown system applies across Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon made a speech to the Scottish Parliament today
Nicola Sturgeon made a speech to the Scottish Parliament today

Presiding Officer

I will shortly confirm the different levels of protection to be applied across Scotland from Monday, and explain some of the reasoning behind these decisions.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

However, a detailed analysis paper is also being published which sets out our assessment of each of the five factors and our overall judgment, for each local authority.

Firstly, though, I will give an update on today’s Covid statistics.

The total number of positive cases reported yesterday was 1,128.

This represents 7.1 per cent of people newly tested, and takes the total number of cases to 61,531.

416 of the new cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 266 in Lanarkshire, 121 in Ayrshire and Arran and 117 in Lothian.

The remaining cases were spread across nine other health board areas. Only Shetland has no new cases today.

I can also confirm that 1,152 people are in hospital – that is an increase of 35 from yesterday.

86 people are in intensive care, which is one more than yesterday.

And I deeply regret to say that in the last 24 hours, a further 37 deaths have been registered of patients who first tested positive over the previous 28 days.

That means that the total number of deaths, under the measure used in our daily figures, is now 2,791.

Once again, I want to send my deepest condolences to all those who have lost a loved one to this virus.

These figures show that we are still seeing high numbers of new cases, increasing hospital and ICU admissions and, sadly, a rising number of deaths.

Those issues are not unique to Scotland. We have seen a resurgence in the virus in all parts of the UK, across Europe, and right around the world.

Last night, for example, both France and Germany reimposed nationwide lockdowns.

In Scotland, we acted early - with some difficult but necessary measures - and we hope that this will have the effect of slowing the spread and preventing a further deterioration in our position.

And while we cannot be certain - and have no grounds for complacency - we do see some encouraging signs that this might be the case.

Last week I indicated that we were beginning to see a significant slowing in the rate at which new cases are increasing. I can confirm today that this has continued.

Cases in the last week, up to today, have increased by four per cent. Two weeks ago the weekly increase was 40 per cent.

And our latest estimate of the R number, published today, suggests that it is still above one, but may have fallen slightly to 1.3.

All of this suggests that the measures introduced five weeks ago to curb household meetings are having an effect.

And the additional measures introduced three weeks ago - to significantly restrict hospitality - may also be starting to have an impact.

All of that is down to the sacrifices of people the length and breadth of the country.

However, we must be under no illusions. Europe is now firmly in the grip of a second wave of Covid.

Cases here are still rising, albeit the rate of growth appears to be slowing.

And the virus is still highly infectious. It will take every opportunity to spread.

So unless we act individually and collectively to protect and build on the progress we see today, it will quickly go into reverse.

Our strategic framework aims to tackle the virus with measures strong enough to work, but also proportionate to the scale of the problem in different parts of the country, and in a way that minimises as far as possible, the other harms that the pandemic is causing.

The assessment of what level of protection is right for each local authority is broadly based on five key factors – the number of positive cases per hundred thousand people over the last week; the percentage of positive tests; our forecast for new cases in the weeks ahead; and the capacity of local hospitals and intensive care facilities.

These factors are assessed, alongside the views of local public health officials and with a consideration of local circumstance, such as specific outbreaks, travel and work patterns and the extent to which health services are provided by neighbouring health boards.

Our final decisions are based on all of these factors.

Before setting out our decisions I want to take a moment to remind people of the purpose of each level.

The baseline level zero and level one are intended to ensure as much normality as possible - but they do not remove all restrictions.

The protections in place at these levels should enable communities to control outbreaks quickly and effectively and minimise transmission of the virus by following the guidance and supporting each other to comply.

However, when we begin to see community transmission in an area, and when the spread of the virus cannot be linked to a specific outbreak, we need to apply the brakes, and that is essentially what levels two and three are designed to do.

Our aim is that these restrictions – especially in level three - are in place for as short a time as possible.

So if any area is at level three, our aim collectively – between those who live there, the local authority, local health services and local businesses - must be to bring it down to level two and then level one, not to allow it to go to level four, which we will use when transmission is extremely high and risking the capacity of the NHS to cope.

I will turn now to the levels that will apply across the country from Monday at 6am.

Following this initial assessment, we will review on a weekly basis whether changes are requited. We aim to confirm our decisions to parliament on a Tuesday, with changes coming into force on the following Friday.

Barring the need for any changes before then, our next update will therefore be Tuesday 10 November, with any changes coming into effect on 13 November.

Before turning to today’s decisions, let me remind everyone that you can see on the Scottish Government website the reasoning behind the decisions, what level your own area is in and what restrictions that entails.

Given the fragile situation we face - and the fact that we are migrating to this new system for the first time - we are taking a deliberately cautious approach today.

At present, we do not judge it safe or prudent to place any part of the country into the baseline level zero.

However, if we see continued progress, I hope that might change in the weeks ahead.

However, I can confirm that Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have all been assessed as level one.

In time - hopefully a short time - we expect that level one will allow people to meet in each other’s homes, in groups of up to six people, from a maximum of two households.

However at present, on clear public health advice, the restriction on household meetings will continue to apply in all parts of the country for now.

I am conscious that in our more rural and island communities that restriction can cause particular difficulty - so we will review the necessity of it in level one areas, ahead of the 10 November review. If the virus remains controlled in these areas, I am hopeful we can lift it then.

Let me now address those areas that have been assessed as level two. They are Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Fife, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute and also – as I will go on to discuss – Perth and Kinross and Angus.

In two of these cases – the Borders and Argyll and Bute - the decision on whether they should be assessed as level one or level two was finely balanced.

In both cases one of the key factors in reaching our decision was the interconnection with neighbouring areas – particularly with health services in Lothian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

We have also considered the impact of travel from nearby areas with higher prevalence of Covid-19. As a result we have decided to take a cautious approach by applying level two to both areas. We will however consider this decision very carefully at the next review point.

The interconnection with neighbouring areas and services has also heavily influenced our decision on Inverclyde.

I understand why it would wish to be assessed as level two.

However, we do not consider it safe to take that decision yet given the very close connections between Inverclyde and other parts of west central Scotland with high transmission rates, high positivity levels and significant pressure already on hospital and ICU capacity.

Inverclyde has therefore been assessed as level three along with East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, and the City of Glasgow; South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire; Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire; The City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian and East Lothian.

We know that those areas in level three have been under restrictions now for a number of weeks, particularly on household interaction. Based on the data we are considering, if progress in suppressing the virus is maintained, we would hope that at a very early review point, we will be able to consider moving some areas, East Lothian in particular and possibly Edinburgh, from level three to level two.

I cannot make that commitment now, but I hope we will be able to confirm it in the coming weeks.

Our approach to managing Covid will work best, where there is real partnership working between neighbouring authorities and health boards - on how to drive down levels of infection, share resources, and communicate with and support communities.

I indicated earlier this week that we had cause for concern in relation to Dundee and that we expected it to move into level three.

Dundee is currently seeing, per week, around 185 new cases per hundred thousand of the population.

That is higher than for several of the areas already in the equivalent of level three.

We have therefore decided that a level three assessment for Dundee is the correct one, and so from Monday at 6am Dundee will move into level three.

Support is available for businesses which are required to close, and all businesses across Scotland will have access to the replacement job support scheme from the UK Government which begins on Monday.

I would encourage all businesses in Dundee who are impacted by the closure, and those in the supply chain, to engage with the City Council and to look at its website to find out what help is available to them.

In making this decision, we considered very carefully whether Perth and Kinross and Angus should also be placed in level three, given the travel patterns and interdependencies between these three authorities.

Our decision not to do so at this stage is based on the view of the three authorities, NHS Tayside and the police that close partnership working can mitigate against cross border transmission.

People living in Angus and Perth and Kinross have a big part to play.

It will be essential for them to adhere strictly to the guidance and the restrictions, especially on travel, if a rise in cases that would necessitate level three restrictions being applied across all of Tayside is to be avoided.

Let me turn now to the situation in Lanarkshire.

The decision between level three and level four there has been very finely balanced.

Lanarkshire has a high number of cases and test positivity and a high number of patients in hospital and ICU.

However, there is evidence in recent days that the situation is stabilising. That is undoubtedly down to the compliance and sacrifices of local people.

And the local councils, NHS Lanarkshire and the police believe they have strong partnership plans in place to maintain that progress under current restrictions.

For these reasons - and given the severity of level four restrictions - we have decided that North and South Lanarkshire should remain in level three at present.

However, I want to be very clear that this has been a borderline decision and it is one that we require to keep under review - not just weekly, but on a daily basis.

I would appeal to people across Lanarkshire to continue to play your part. Please abide strictly with all the rules and guidance, to help ensure that the rise in cases continues to slow and that more severe restrictions can be avoided.

Let me turn, finally, to travel. And here I need to be particularly blunt.

I know travel restrictions are unwelcome and can be controversial, but they are an absolutely essential part of any regional approach to tackling Covid. They are – unfortunately - a price we must pay for more targeted restrictions.

If people don’t abide by the travel advice, the virus will spread from high to lower prevalence areas, and a differentiated approach will become unsustainable. In these circumstances, we would have to return to national restrictions.

So let me be very clear what we are asking of people.

If you live in a level three council area or in future a level four area, please do not travel outside the council area you live in - unless you require to do so for essential reasons.

And if you live in a level one or two local authority area, you must not travel into a level three or level four council area except for essential purposes.

By essential purposes we mean things like work – if you really cannot work from home – education, local outdoor exercise, healthcare or caring responsibilities, and essential shopping where that is not possible locally.

In recent weeks that guidance has applied to different health board areas. But from Monday, it will apply at local authority level.

Similarly people – wherever they live – should not travel between Scotland and areas in the rest of the UK with high levels of the virus unless they really need to do so.

Given that the police can’t check everyone’s journey, this has to rely on public willingness to adhere. That’s why the advice is in guidance at this stage and not regulation, though we will keep that under review.

But I appeal to people across the country - please comply with this advice, to keep everyone safe and allow us to continue with a proportionate response to wider restrictions.

Presiding officer, the levels we will put in place from Monday, require more sacrifice, at a time when all of us are tired of making sacrifices. I recognise that.

But it is essential.

If we all dig in and stick with it, this proportionate approach has a real chance of being sustainable and keeping Covid under control over the winter.

If we succeed, we open the prospect – in all parts of the country – of being able to lead slightly less restricted lives in the future.

However, I must be open with Parliament and the country about this.

We are, as of now, making progress in Scotland. But cases are still rising and the situation we face is fragile. And across Europe the pandemic is accelerating.

So I cannot rule out a move back to nationwide restrictions in the next few weeks, including at level four.

That could happen if, for example, cases in parts of the county start to rise faster again, to the extent that controlling spread with travel restrictions will not be effective.

Or it could happen if pressure on the NHS risks breaching capacity - not just at a local level - but overall.

We want to avoid this, obviously. But to achieve that, we must all play our part. The Government must and will lead. But all of us have individual agency - and individual responsibility.

None of us can guarantee we will not get or transmit the virus – but we can all make choices that keep ourselves, our loved ones and our communities safer.

So please, make sure you know the restrictions in your local area - from Monday, a postcode checker will help you do that - and stick to them.

Wherever you live, for now, do not visit other people’s houses.

And don’t travel to or from level three areas.

And please remember FACTS –

Wear face coverings

Avoid places with crowds of people

Clean your hands and hard surfaces

Keep two metre distance from people in other households

And self isolate and get tested immediately if you have Covid symptoms.

If we do these things, we can keep the virus under control in our neighbourhoods, and our communities.

We can reduce overall case levels in our own local authority areas and help to do so across the country.

We can play a part in moving all parts of Scotland to lower levels of restrictions.

And above all, we can protect each other, protect the NHS, and save lives.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.