Post-Christmas lockdown for Scotland not ruled out

Post-Christmas lockdown for Scotland not ruled out

Tougher restrictions – including a potential lockdown – after the festive period cannot be ruled out, the deputy first minister has warned.

John Swinney said the Scottish government would review Covid levels next Tuesday as part of an unplanned “decision-making moment”.

He said the move reflected the “deteriorating situation” across Scotland and the UK.

Ministers have however ruled out a law change around the five-day festivities.

The current Covid rules will be relaxed between 23 and 27 December to allow people to travel within the UK and spend Christmas together.

But the government said on Wednesday it would toughen its Christmas guidance with people urged not to stay overnight in another house unless necessary.

Mr Swinney said next week’s review “reflected the changing position that has developed over the last two or three weeks”.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Unfortunately, in Scotland today, we are in a rising tide of coronavirus cases.

“The less we do to have social interaction in the period going forward, the better, in terms of stemming the rise in coronavirus cases within our community.”

Mr Swinney said cases were beginning to rise again in Scotland, with 99 cases per 100,000 people 10 days ago increasing to 116.

The Welsh government announced on Wednesday that tougher restrictions will be imposed on the country immediately after the Christmas easing period, which is due to end on December 27.

Asked if the Scottish government was considering similar measures, Mr Swinney did not rule out the idea of a lockdown or tougher restrictions.

“We’ll have to look at what the forward prospects look like, we’ll have to take decisions that will be sustainable for a period into January and February to protect the public interest and protect the National Health Service,” he said.

Asked specifically if there could be greater restrictions or a possible lockdown, he said: “That could be a possibility, I can’t rule it out.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday the safest way to spend Christmas was “unequivocally” to stay within your own household and your own home.

It came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the four UK nations had “unanimously” agreed to keep relaxed Christmas Covid rules in place between 23 and 27 December.

The four UK nations previously agreed a set of rules for the festive period, which has been set down in legislation and is not expected to change – even though the guidance has been updated.

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