FMQs cancelled as Holyrood chamber shuts for a week

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Nicola Sturgeon in empty chamberImage source, PA Media

The Scottish Parliament chamber has shut down for a week as the country goes into a coronavirus "lockdown", it has been announced.

Nicola Sturgeon made a statement about the virus on Tuesday afternoon, with MSPs later giving formal consent to emergency legislation to help tackle the spread of Covid-19.

But MSPs will now not sit in the chamber again until next Wednesday.

The closure means that first minister's questions will not be held this week.

Holyrood committees have already been meeting with reduced numbers to ensure social distancing between politicians.

And some seats have been removed from the main chamber to ensure MSPs are able to socially distance themselves.

The first minister updated MSPs on Tuesday afternoon, a day after announcing "difficult and unprecedented" restrictions on daily life in a bid to tackle the pandemic.

She said the country was now effectively in "lockdown", and that two more people had died after testing positive for coronavirus - bringing the total in Scotland to 16.

The first minister also said there have now been 584 confirmed cases of the virus - up from 499 on Monday.

Ms Sturgeon's weekly first minister's questions session on Thursday has been cancelled, as has previously scheduled business including the final debate of the Consumer Scotland Bill and questions to other ministers.

Some committee meetings are still scheduled, but have been taking place with fewer members than usual - earlier on Tuesday only five members of the finance and constitution committee attended to question minister Mike Russell on Westminster's emergency legislation.