Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish virus restrictions 'unlikely to be eased'

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that Covid-19 cases remain "too high for comfort" in Scotland and the current restrictions across the country are unlikely to be eased.

The First Minister will tomorrow announce the outcome of the first weekly review of the five-tiered system of restrictions introduced last week, but made it clear during today's daily briefing that a relaxation is unlikely.

There were 912 new cases reported today, although this is down on the 1,100 yesterday and more than 1,500 on Saturday. The number of Scots in hospital also fell by 19 today to 1,226, and intensive care cases are down by 6 to 105.

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"I want people to be clear the sacrifices they're making are having an impact," Ms Sturgeon.

The restrictions are due to be reviewed tomorrow
The restrictions are due to be reviewed tomorrow

But case numbers are still not falling sufficiently - as opposed to levelling off - to allow the restrictions to be eased

"Cases across Scotland right now are not as high - anywhere near it probably - as they would have without everybody planning for these restrictions - but they're still too high for comfort,” she added.

"What I mean by that is if we saw a bit of an increase as we go into a festive period, people maybe just finding it hard to comply, if it takes off again at the current high level, it will then quickly overwhelm us."

The SNP leader will make a statement to MSPs in Parliament tomorrow afternoon where she will review the restrictions that are in place in each of Scotland's 32 council areas.

"The final decisions I will set out tomorrow will be taken by the cabinet at its meeting tomorrow morning," she said.

"I'm not going to pre-empt those decisions because they haven't finally been taken yet."

She insisted measures already in place in Scotland were "undoubtedly" having a positive impact on the spread of the virus.

"The number of new cases was rising pretty steeply in the first half of October but that has now pretty much levelled off. We are in a far better position than we would have been without the current restrictions in place," Ms Sturgeon added.

She said while there were "positive signs", it was "really important we start to see these translate into a significant and sustained decline in Covid cases".

Ms Sturgeon added: "We cannot be sure we are yet seeing that and while no decisions have been taken, I think it is highly unlikely that we will see any significant easing of restrictions announced tomorrow."

The First Minister also said she was concerned about the prospect of more Scots disregarding the rules during the lockdown period.

"With the best will in the world there will be more pressure on compliance with basic measures over the forthcoming Christmas period," she added

"That is another reason why we need to see cases right now decline."

The prospect of travel restrictions between council areas in the higher levels of restrictions has previously been raised by Ms Sturgeon, but she said today there is no update on this.

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