Coronavirus: Scotland could get tougher Covid tiered lockdown system than England says Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland could adopt a tougher "tiered" approach to future Coronavirus restrictions than England amid concerns the highest alert level planned south of the border won’t halt its spread.
Coronavirus art in GlasgowCoronavirus art in Glasgow
Coronavirus art in Glasgow

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today that she would consider whether the Scottish tiered system, currently being devised, could include an additional level which goes further than the "very high" stage in England.

Ms Sturgeon said she wants as much “alignment” across the UK as possible to assist public understanding, but said any rules being implemented must be effective.

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The new system unveiled by Boris Johnson yesterday means every area of England will be classified as being on medium, high or very high alert. But the UK's chief medical officer Chris Whitty has already hinted that even the tier 3 restrictions may not be sufficient to halt the spread of the virus.

Ms Sturgeon said today that advisors had made it clear at a recent COBr meeting that the minimum measures in the "tier 3" system for England would "in all likelihood be insufficient to do what's required to bring the R number down."

Councils south of the border would have the ability to introduce additional measures to tier 3 which could tackle this.

But Ms Sturgeon added: "We want to if possible to have an aligned, strategic framework between the four nations because I think that makes sense and gives people an ease of understanding.

"But we have to make sure the content of that is right for the circumstances we're facing here."

The Scottish Government has not yet finalised how its own tiered approach will operate, with details to be brought before MSPs at Holyrood in a fortnight.

But Ms Sturgeon said: "There will be a couple of options if we thought that the tier 3 announced in England yesterday wasn't sufficient - you could toughen up what the minimum of that tier 3 was or you could have another tier above it.

"These are the options we will consider over the next few days before bringing a proposal to parliament after the October break."

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The First Minister said a danger with the virus, given the speed it can spread, is "waiting too long to act, than not acting firmly enough."

She added: "That's what we're trying to avoid and to get that balance as right as possible in Scotland.

"We will try to reflect that learning in the tiered strategy that we put forward in a few days time."

The tier 3 restrictions for England unveiled by the Prime Minister will only apply in Liverpool, so far, from Wednesday.

These restrictions will mean that pubs and bars will be closed, except where serving substantial meals, while households cannot mix indoors or outdoors. Gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos will also close, but shops, schools and universities will remain open.

The First Minister said the fortnight-long measures currently in place in Scotland, which have seen all bars and restaurants inn central Scotland close, go further than anything planned for England.

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