Covid in Scotland: No new virus restrictions announced

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Scotland's first minister has not announced any additional coronavirus restrictions in her latest review of the rules.

But Nicola Sturgeon said she would not hesitate to take further action in the coming weeks if it was needed to curb the recent increase in cases.

The number of people in hospital with the virus has nearly doubled to 154 over the past week.

And Ms Sturgeon said the country's R number could now be as high as 1.7.

The first minister said that a further 668 people had tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, which she said was 10.8% of those who had been newly tested.

Three more people have died after testing positive for the virus - bringing the total number under that measurement to 2,522.

Ms Sturgeon said the figures demonstrated why it had been necessary to impose tighter restrictions last week, when a ban on visiting other people's homes was introduced alongside a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants.

But she gave no indication that the Scottish government was planning to impose a so-called "circuit-breaker" lockdown.

The country's national clinical director, Prof Jason Leitch, said earlier on Thursday that this was being "seriously considered".

Prof Leitch said the move could see the country put back into stricter lockdown for a two or three week period, potentially during the October school holidays, with businesses such as pubs and restaurants possibly having to close and tighter travel restrictions being introduced.

But he stressed that no decision had yet been taken on whether it would be necessary.

Image caption,
Prof Jason Leitch said a circuit breaker lockdown was being considered, but no decision on it has yet been taken

Ms Sturgeon did formally confirm that the easing of some measures, which had originally been due to take place next week, would definitely not go ahead.

These rules cover soft play areas, indoor contact sports for those aged 12 and above, and some live events and sports stadiums.

Ms Sturgeon had indicated last month that they were unlikely to be relaxed at this stage.

She told the Scottish Parliament: "I hope members will agree that it would not be sensible to ease restrictions that are still in place while infection rates are rising and we are working to bring them back down.

"We will review these restrictions again by 15 October. However, if we need to take further action before that to curb the spread of the virus we will not hesitate to do so, but of course we will report that to parliament."

'Democratic deficit'

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said all proposals for future coronavirus restrictions - including any plan for a circuit-breaker lockdown - should be voted on by the Scottish Parliament before being imposed.

Mr Leonard said: "Since the need for local and targeted restrictions, new rules have increasingly been announced via late night press releases, Twitter and TV interviews.

"Parliament has so far not had an opportunity to give its consent to local restrictions, unless they have already expired.

"This is no way to govern. Parliament is supposed to provide checks and balance to government power. Without this we risk a real democratic deficit."

Ms Sturgeon responded by pledging: "Where it is possible we will seek to bring things to parliament in advance".

But she added: "This is an infectious virus and we have to act quickly and flexibly sometimes if we have a sudden spike or outbreaks that are putting health and life at risk."

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