Coronavirus Scotland: 'Rolling lockdown' could see pubs closed and people urged to stay at home

Proposals revealed as Nicola Sturgeon holds talks with Boris Johnson, ahead of tougher restrictions in England as well

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 21 September 2020 17:08 BST
Coronavirus: Weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in England

A “rolling lockdown” is being considered in Scotland, shutting down pubs, restaurants, entertainment venues, playgrounds and church services for two weeks.

A leaked document – which Nicola Sturgeon did not deny is genuine – revealed that ministers are weighing up the “circuit break” to coincide with school holidays in different areas.

There could also be travel restrictions, a ban on contact sports and a “general message to stay at home as much as possible”, the memo says.

It was revealed as the Scottish First Minister held talks with Boris Johnson, who is expected to announce his own tougher restrictions for England as early as Tuesday.

“Yes, we are looking at a wide range of options and any government that isn’t doing that right now wouldn’t be doing its job properly,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Written by Scottish government officials last Saturday – and stamped “official sensitive” – the measures would go far beyond any restrictions issued anywhere, since the first lockdown was eased.

Schools in most of Scotland close for two weeks on 9 October, but a handful, including Edinburgh, close a week later on 16 October.

The idea, also known to have been proposed by some health chiefs in London, would aim to take advantage of pupils being at home to choke off rising infections with a lockdown in that area.

After a computer screen image circulated on Twitter, Ms Sturgeon told her daily coronavirus briefing: “I’ve heard about the screengrab,”

She went on: I’m not going to comment on leaked documents whether they are genuine or not.

“What I would say is that any responsible government right now will be looking at a whole range of different options. I know the Scottish government is and I’ve indicated today what the nature of some of those would be.

“But we haven’t reached final decisions yet so anybody that’s looking at any documents and drawing a conclusion these are definitely going to happen is wrong, because we haven’t made these decisions.”

The document floats either a “fixed 2-week” lockdown across Scotland, or a “rolling” one, linked to half-term holidays, which “could include” a “five-mile rule” or “no unregulated children’s activities”.

People would be told to leave their homes “for essentials and outdoor exercise only”, it suggests.

Mr Johnson will make a statement to the Commons on Tuesday, after hosting the first Cobra meeting since mid-May.

His spokesman agreed with scientific advisers that the coming months would be difficult, describing it as “what is likely to be a challenging winter period”.

“You can see what's been happening over the course of the previous 72 or 96 hours,” the spokesman said.

“Tomorrow morning is an opportunity for Cobra to discuss what next steps may be required in the coronavirus response.”

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