Nicola Sturgeon: 'Caution' required ahead of review of Scotland's lockdown levels

Areas hoping to see a reduction in their level of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions may not see changes quickly as being cautious continues to drive the Scottish Government’s approach to measures, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Council areas across Scotland are in levels one, two or three of the Scottish Government’s five-level system, but several areas are measuring data relating to indicators used to decide which levels they enter that are below their existing level.

Fife was also highlighted as a potential level of “concern” for the First Minister, but she said she would not “pre-empt” any decisions which will be announced on Tuesday at the Scottish Parliament as part of the weekly review of the levels system.

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Asked at her daily coronavirus briefing whether she was impacting the mental health of Scots by not announcing potential level changes sooner, Ms Sturgeon said it was unlikely much would regularly change rapidly.

Nicola Sturgeon said caution would guide decision making on changes to levels of restrictions
Nicola Sturgeon said caution would guide decision making on changes to levels of restrictions

She said: “I am not trying to keep people on tenterhooks, I am trying to be straight with people.

"I also want us to have as stable a position as possible and not always be chopping and changing.

"We can’t rule out having to take decisions relatively quickly. This is rapidly spreading virus if we allow it to be, but one of the purposes of the levels system was trying to get areas of the country onto levels and then give them a bit of time to work to get the infection down so that in time they can come down a level.

"That does mean that we will probably not chop and change parts of the country every week.”

The First Minister said the high level of prevalence of the virus meant that caution in reducing the level of restrictions faced by parts of the country was driving the Scottish Government’s decision making.

She said: “If we go into winter with a high level of infection, even if it is a stable high level of infection, any increase in the R number again, which may well happen because people in the winter are more likely to be in indoors environments, that increase in the R number will operate on a higher baseline and more quickly overwhelm it.

"That’s why we have to get the overall level of infection down more than it is just now and that will be a factor in the decisions we make over the next few days.

"That is not me signalling that we’re about to put the country into level four. We will take any decisions around that carefully.

"But it is probably me signalling that we have to be a bit cautious about too quickly moving too many parts of the country down the levels system and opening up the country too much, too quickly because then we run the risk on that high baseline of things taking off again.”

Ms Sturgeon will provide an update on which council areas sit in which levels on Tuesday. Some more rural areas such as the Borders, East Lothian and Midlothian hoping to move into level one.

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