Coronavirus Scotland: Seven councils likely to be plunged into toughest Level Four lockdown from FRIDAY
SEVEN councils are likely to be plunged into the toughest Level 4 lockdowns from Friday, Nicola Sturgeon said.
The First Minister put areas covering Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire on alert ahead of an announcement today.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
She blamed “stubborn” Covid rates as Scots cases fell to their lowest Monday tally in a month.
But Ms Sturgeon said the daily figure was “lower than we would have expected it to be” while — case numbers in Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, East and West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire, where 1.8 million people live — are “not reducing sufficiently” under Level 3.
The Nats leader suggested locking down some areas now may give greater flexibility to families hoping to meet up over Christmas, while reducing the risk of additional pressure on hospitals and intensive care services later in winter.
Sturgeon urged to hold Holyrood vote before plunging millions into Tier Four
Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, she said: “Moving to Level 4 restrictions for a limited period in some areas — while not a decision that we will ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impacts — would help us to address both of these concerns.
“We can’t do it at all if we have stubbornly high prevalence, because then any spike over Christmas would tip potentially our hospital services into a much more serious position.”
Ms Sturgeon also hinted that Inverclyde, West Lothian and all three Ayrshire local authorities are at risk of going to Level 4 but said the decision was less “clear cut”.
A final decision will be made at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting before the First Minister confirms any changes in a statement to MSPs at Holyrood.
But business leaderswarned a move to the top tier — which would see all hospitality and non-essential shops closed along with gyms, hairdressers and beauty salons — would hammer retailers in the run-up to Christmas.
A Scottish Retail Consortium spokesman said: “The scientific evidence is clear shuttering shops will do little to reduce the spread of Covid — but we can be explicit closing stores in the crucial Christmas period could be devastating for those businesses.
“If shops, which all the evidence shows are safe, cannot trade throughout this period then losing that revenue might prevent the business reopening, with direct consequences for jobs.”
And Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, added: “At all levels, support must be made available from the moment any restrictions come into force, have a clear point of contact and be commensurate with their impact.
"Anything less and even more businesses crucial to our recovery will go to the wall, with further job losses inevitable.”
Ms Sturgeon added that travel restrictions — currently advice and not law — would become “more of a necessity” if the first areas were to go into Level 4.
She added: “Part of our consideration today is — in order to make very clear to people how important it is that they abide by travel restrictions — whether any Level 4 move would be accompanied by a more statutory regulation-based approach.”
It came as Scotland’s largest teaching union threatened strikes as early as mid-December after claiming staff are angry about being put at risk from the virus.
The EIS said it wants Level 4 measures to involve part-time or remote schooling for areas placed in the top tier.
A survey last week asked teachers if they would want school closures or “blended” learning — part in classrooms, part online — if council areas were placed under the toughest set of curbs.
Appearing on BBC Scotland, general secretary Larry Flanagan Flanagan said: “One of the questions we’re asking in the survey is whether members would be prepared to move to industrial action in a ‘safety strike’, if that was required to get action from either the council or the Scottish Government.”
Asked if large-scale industrial action could happen before Christmas, Mr Flanagan added: “It would be — potentially the earliest would be mid-December.
“But what we’re really looking for is that dialogue, so that staff can be assured that their interests, their health and wellbeing, their welfare, is a factor in government’s considerations.
"Because at times, it appears from Scottish Government that schools will stay open come hell or high water, and the consequences for staff and incidental. That’s what’s creating anxiety.”
Ms Sturgeon said she aims to keep schools fully open in Level 4 areas due to fears over the potential “damage” caused to children by taking them out of a classroom environment.
But Labour MSP Iain Gray called for an extension of testing in schools and claimed teachers were being forced to consider strike action “due to the failures of the Scottish Government to make good on safety promises”.
Scottish Tory education secretary Jamie Greene also claimed teachers had been let down, adding: “Promises have been broken and calls for more testing and additional resources have been ignored.
“Strikes and online learning are not the answer as pupils would suffer — but the government must start delivering a fairer deal for teachers that protects them from the virus and gives them the proper level of resources needed to safely keep schools open.”
The row came as six more Covid deaths were confirmed in the previous 24 hours to yesterday.
A total of 1,227 people with the virus were in hospital including 98 in intensive care.
We pay for your stories and videos! Do you have a story or video for The Scottish Sun? Email us at [email protected] or call 0141 420 5300
Source: Read Full Article