Nicola Sturgeon includes ‘close to full lockdown’ option in five-tier coronavirus system for Scotland

First minister announces new framework including ‘level 4’ category that would see tougher curbs than any in England

Adam Forrest
Friday 23 October 2020 18:47
Nicola Sturgeon announces five-tier coronavirus system for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new five-tier scheme for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland.

Levels 1, 2 and 3 will be broadly similar to the English system, where local areas are classed as either “medium”, “high” or “very high” risk.

However, areas in level 4 would be expected to be go back into something “closer to a full lockdown”, said Ms Sturgeon. “We would not use [level four] unless absolutely necessary,” she said.

Just like in March and early April, all contact between different households indoors would have to stop, and non-essential shops would have to close.

However, the first minister said schools would remain open as “as far is as possible” under the strict level four curbs, and up to six people from different households would still be able to meet in parks and open spaces.

The SNP leader said the level 0 category, for areas with low infection levels, would allow something “close to normality”. This least-restrictive status would see almost all businesses open and up to eight people from three households able to meet indoors.

Level 2 was described as being similar to those which are seen across Scotland at the moment outside the central belt, while level 3 would see “tougher restrictions” like those now in place in Glasgow and Edinburgh, including the closure of pubs.

If her draft plan is approved at Holyrood on Tuesday, the new measures will come into force in Scotland on 2 November, before being reviewed on a weekly basis.

“We do not envisage returning to a situation as severe as the first lockdown,” said the first minister. “We are not back at square one. Today’s framework will allow us, I hope, to make further progress.”

She added: “The more we all do in this moment to follow the rules and drive down the numbers, the more freedoms we can enjoy.”

Since 9 October, bars and restaurants in five areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – have been forced to close. Pubs, restaurants and cafes elsewhere in Scotland are only allowed to serve indoor customers between 6am and 6pm with a ban on alcohol inside.

Businesses in Scotland which face lockdown restrictions will be able to apply for grants, Ms Sturgeon said.

Grants for £2,000 or £3,000 every four weeks would be available for firms forced to close completely. Those which can remain open but cannot trade as normal can apply for funding of £1,400 or £2,100 every four weeks.

However, the SNP leader warned the money will run out and called for a “resolution” from the UK government. 

Ms Sturgeon said it is “intolerable and unacceptable” that extra funding support set out by chancellor Rishi Sunak for England on Thursday will not lead to extra cash in Scotland.

Mr Sunak announced billions of pounds of extra help for firms and workers affected by Covid-19 restrictions in England. She said it was “deeply unfair to Scottish businesses who deserve the same open-ended commitment”.

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