Nicola Sturgeon has declared that from Tuesday, most of Scotland will be closed for the whole of January to tackle the growing spread of the latest coronavirus strain.
The First Minister said that beginning Tuesday, a legally enforceable stay-at-home order would apply to areas currently under Level 4 – the Scottish mainland and Skye – with exemptions for family caregivers, required shopping, unlimited outdoor exercise and as part of an extended household.
Reaction:’ Relief’ as Nicola Sturgeon declares a full midnight lockdown in Scotland
Until February, schools and nurseries will remain closed to most pupils, which ensures an additional two weeks of home schooling for most pupils.
In a speech to the Scottish Parliament, which was recalled from recess to address stricter measures, Ms. Sturgeon revealed the reforms. She told MPs that Covid 19’s hospital capacity could overflow within “three or four weeks.” if no action is taken.
Here is the sentence in full by Nicola Sturgeon:
I am thankful to you, the Bureau, today for this reminder of the Building.
And I want to wish you, the representatives and all the audience, all the best for a new year that I hope will bring better days, despite a very difficult start.
This morning, the Cabinet met to review the current – extremely serious – covid situation and to discuss what more steps are needed to reduce the spread of the virus. I’ll shortly outline our decisions.
However, I can already confirm in summary that, beginning tonight at midnight for the duration of January, we have agreed to introduce a legal obligation to stay home unless absolutely necessary. This is close to the lockdown that took place last year in March.
However, I want to explain in a little more depth why they are so important before I detail the decisions of the Cabinet.
There have been two big game changers in our battle against the virus in the past few weeks.
One, vaccine acceptance, is highly optimistic and gives us a way out of this pandemic.
But the other is a huge blow – the latest, faster-spreading version of the virus.
Perhaps the best way to compare the difficulty we face right now is to compare it to a race.
We have vaccinations in one lane – our task is to ensure they can run as quickly as possible.
So the state will do whatever we can to get citizens vaccinated as soon as possible. Later, I’ll say something about that.
But in the other lane is the virus, which, because of this new variant, has just learned to run much quicker, and has undoubtedly gained momentum in recent weeks.
It’s important to speed it up as much as possible for the vaccine to win the race.
But we still need to slow the virus down in order to give it the time it requires to move forward.
And because it is spreading faster now, that means there is a need for even stricter restrictions.
The evidence is now conclusive that the new version is up to 70 percent more transmissible than strains that have previously circulated and that R counts can be increased by up to 0.7.
And the latest version already appears to be responsible for nearly half of all new cases in Scotland, based on recent reviews of PCR test samples.
Undoubtedly, this increased and more rapid spread is the explanation for the very serious situation we are now facing.
The severity and urgency of the situation is demonstrated by today’s case numbers – 1,905 new incidents, with 15 percent testing positive.
No new fatalities were registered today – since it was a Sunday yesterday and registration offices were mostly closed – but since I updated Parliament before Christmas, there were 289 fatalities recorded on a regular basis. That reminds us again of the continuing misery caused by this pandemic.
But it isn’t just about the numbers for one day.
We see a steep upward trend in infections now.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that I am more worried than at any time since March of last year about the situation we are facing now.
The number of seven-day cases per 100,000 population increased by 65 percent in the week of December 23-30 – from 136 per 100,000 to 225 per 100,000.
The number of positive tests also saw a sharp rise.
The next report on the hospital’s number of covid patients and on the I