Almost half of Scots took advantage of Christmas relaxation rules as trust drops in Scottish Government

New research published by the Scottish Government shows almost half of Scots took advantage of the relaxation of restrictions around Christmas.

It comes as trust in the Scottish Government dropped towards the end of last year ahead of the announcement of a new, full lockdown in the first week of January.

Compliance in the rules was also the lowest in November and December in the week the new, more transmissable variant was first announced by the UK Government and reported as being identified in Scotland.

The polling comes after Scotland saw a record number of deaths from Covid-19 in early January, twinned with a record number of hospital cases and those being treated for Covid-19 in intensive care.

Nearly half of Scots took advantage of Christmas rule relaxations

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The lockdown announcement that followed in early January led to the lowest levels of optimism amongst Scots, with people as optimistic as they were at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.

Figures published by the Scottish Government in their monthly Public Attitudes to Coronavirus survey show that 45 per cent of Scots said they took advantage of the easing of restrictions, with 54 per cent stating they did not.

This was higher than the equivalent figures for intention to take advantage of the relaxation ahead of the decision to tighten the restrictions.

On December 15 to 16, 38 per cent of Scots said they intended to take advantage of the relaxations versus 51 per cent saying they would not.

Around 60 per cent also said the relaxation of the rules went too far, according to the monthly YouGov survey.

At the time of announcing the initial relaxations, Nicola Sturgeon said: "We are determined to strike the right balance between the understandable desire – which I share – to see family over the Christmas period, but also to do that in a way that does not lead to increased loss of life and harm to health over January."

However, announcing the tightening of restrictions in late December, the First Minister said that announcing the changes “made her want to cry”, but insisted they were needed to “prevent things getting worse – potentially very quickly".

The most common way Scots celebrated Christmas was within their own household, but 9 per cent said they would have a celebration with multiple households, and 17 per cent said they would travel to see family and friends.

Just over a quarter of of Scots – the highest recorded in November and December – told the survey they engaged in non-compliant activities in the week of December 15.

The new, more transmissable variant of Covid-19 was announced by UK health secretary Matt Hancock on December 14 and is thought to have been well established in Scotland at this point, with the majority of cases of Covid-19 believed to be the new variant by early January.

Trust in the Scottish Government had also dropped the week the new variant was announced, falling from an average of around 67 per cent to a low of 61 per cent.

However, the survey states around 60 per cent of Scots say they are extremely likely to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

That proportion has risen steadily since November when 41 per cent said they would be extremely likely to accept a vaccination.

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