Covid Scotland: Coronavirus measures including physical distancing may be reinforced if hospital admissions rise, says John Swinney

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said there are no specific plans to restrict large-scale events but that some baseline measures may be reintroduced if hospital admissions continue to rise.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Mr Swinney said that the “interrelationship” between Covid-19 case numbers and the pressure on the NHS is fundamental to any judgement on the “application of any restrictions”.

He said: “We have to make a judgement about the degree of pressure that the NHS is under and we've also got to consider the question of whether any restrictions would be proportionate.

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"That's the key assessment that ministers have to make, because, in terms of fulfilling our legal obligations to apply any restrictions to the freedoms that individuals enjoy, we have to be able to be satisfied that there is a proportionate danger and risk.”

Mr Swinney continued to say that there was not a specific figure available when asked how high case and hospital numbers have to be before restrictions are reintroduced but that ‘baseline’ measures would come first.

He said: “Obviously there is a range of factors and options available.

"There are some baseline measures that we would reinforce the necessity of people complying with, whether that's the voluntary aspects of trying to exercise physical distancing where that is possible to do so, or whether that's following the mandatory requirements to wear face coverings in certain indoor settings and in other contexts.”

He said if restrictions are reintroduced it would be done on the basis of “what is going to have the best effect”.

Baseline measures such as physical distancing may be reinforced if hospital admissions continue to rise says Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

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Mr Swinney continued: “The public have seen over the course of the last 18 months the types of restrictions we have to apply in certain circumstances.

"We want to avoid that at all possible costs, which is why I concentrate on the fact that it's important that individuals comply with the baseline measures which can help to avoid the circulation of the virus, and therefore means that we don't have to look at any possible further restrictions that might need to be applied in the future.

"There's obviously the messages about hand hygiene and cough etiquette that we have concentrated on over the course of the period, all of these things can contribute as baseline measures to avoiding the spread of the virus.”

He added that the Scottish Government is not currently discussing the option of cancelling large scale events such as football matches and gigs.

Asked about schools, he said: “Cases have risen very significantly within Scotland and we are looking closely at why that is the case.

“Undoubtedly the gathering of people together in schools will have fuelled that to some extent. You can see that in the proportion of younger people who are testing positive.”

Asked if school closures could be among any early restrictions, he said: “We want to avoid that at all possible costs.

“That’s why a few weeks ago we were being criticised for the retention of face coverings within secondary schools, people would tell us we shouldn’t do that.

“But of course the justification for it appears to me to be ever stronger.”

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