Coronavirus: Scotland bans households mixing indoors as Nicola Sturgeon criticises Boris Johnson plan

Scottish first minister said new rules on hospitality unveiled by the PM ‘on its own will not be sufficient to bring the R number down’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 22 September 2020 19:22 BST
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Scotland bans households mixing indoors as Nicola Sturgeon criticises Boris Johnson plan

Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new ban on households mixing across Scotland from Wednesday, as she said Boris Johnson’s plan will not go far enough to bring down cases of the virus.

In a statement, the first minister said Scotland would align with England on plans to introduce a 10pm curfew for pubs, restaurants and other entertainment venues, with workers being asked to continue to work from home where possible.

But Ms Sturgeon also said the measures introduced to restrict hospitality in England – unveiled by the prime minister just hours before – will not be sufficient to bring down the R rate of Covid-19 transmissions.

Diverging from the rules in England, which permit gatherings of six people inside in areas not subject to local lockdown, she said from tomorrow Scots will not be able to meet in other people’s homes.

The first minister said data suggested this measure had reduced the spread of the virus in the west of Scotland and extending it to the rest of the country will hopefully reduce transmission. Certain exemptions will apply, however, including couples not living together, tradespeople, and those who need childcare.

“Difficult though it is, any serious effort to reduce the R number below one must take account of this key driver of transmission and seek to break it,” she said.

"So after careful consideration, we have decided that from tomorrow, to be reviewed after three weeks and with exceptions that I will come on to, visiting other households will not be permitted."

Addressing teenagers specifically, she added: "I know how miserable this is for you and you have been so patient.

"We are trying to give you as much flexibility as we can. In return, please work with us and do your best to stick to the rules, for everyone's sake."

On the issue of a so-called “circuit break” lockdown in October, which would result in a return to short-term closures of venues such as pubs and restaurants, the SNP leader said no decision had yet been taken by the Scottish government, but it was being kept “under review”.

She also urged people in Scotland not to book travel overseas for the October break "unless it is absolutely essential" and advised people against car sharing with those outside of their own household.

Elaborating on her decision to enforce more severe restrictions than England, Ms Sturgeon, who attended Tuesday’s Cobra meeting chaired by Mr Johnson, said: “I can confirm that we will introduce measures on hospitality similar to those outlined in England by the prime minister – and thereby align as far as possible with the rest of the UK.

“However, the advice given to the cabinet by the chief medical officer and the national clinical director is that this on its own will not be sufficient to bring the R number down.

“They stress that we must act, not just quickly and decisively, but also on a scale significant enough to have an impact on the spread of the virus."

Pleading with Scots to follow the new restrictions, she urged people to “stick with this”, adding: "Keeping to all these rules isn't easy – but they remain the best way for all of us to protect ourselves, each other, the NHS and ultimately save lives.

 "All of this is incredibly tough – and six months on it only gets tougher. Though it doesn't feel like this now, this pandemic will pass. It won't last forever and one day, hopefully soon, we will be looking back on it, not living through it."

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