Good morning. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, will make a statement to the Scottish parliament later announcing a new set of coronavirus restrictions. Scotland’s laws are already tighter than England’s but case numbers in Scotland are rising alarmingly, as they are across the UK as a whole, and Sturgeon said yesterday: “The government is receiving very strong public health advice that action over and above the current restrictions is necessary.”
We got a good insight into what that advice sounds like this morning from Prof Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews and an adviser to the Scottish government on Covid, as well as a contributor to Sage, the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. Reicher said that without action now, a March-style lockdown would be needed by the end of the month. He told the Today programme:
I do think it’s important to do something because if you look at the figures at the moment, the level of infections is about 10% of what it was at the peak in March, but, at the rate of doubling, it would probably be at the same as the peak in March by the end of October. So the good news is we have a window of opportunity to do something.
If we squander that window of opportunity, then we really are in trouble, then we really would be talking about going back to March in terms of lockdown measures. But we’re not talking about that now. We’ve got time.
My colleague Libby Brooks has sent me this ahead of this afternoon’s announcement.
The first minister’s rather unusual pre-announcement yesterday of “the things we will not do” has done nothing to dampen speculation or anxieties. Nicola Sturgeon assured the public at her daily briefing yesterday that the country will not be returning to full lockdown this month, but left the door open for localised restrictions – likely across the central belt where the virus is accelerating fastest – that could well include a travel ban and closure of pubs and restaurants.
Remember that restrictions in Scotland are already tougher than elsewhere in the UK: last month Scots were banned from visiting other homes, with strict limits also in force for outdoor meetings and a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants.
The Federation of Small Businesses warned that more than a week of uncertainty about details of the new restrictions – with ministers and public health officials floating the idea of a “circuit breaker” lockdown – had caused emotional strain for employers and staff, while the Scottish Licensed Trade Association predicted that Scotland could lose about a third of its pubs and about 25% of staff if another shut-down was ordered.
Meanwhile, the virus is back in Scottish care homes, with two deaths and 80 staff and residents testing positive following a significant outbreak in two homes in Lothian.
And these are from the BBC’s Glenn Campbell,.
Here is the agenda for the day.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.
12.15pm: The Welsh government holds its coronavirus briefing.
1.30pm: Downing Street lobby briefing.
2.30pm: Richard Hughes, the new chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility, and other economists give evidence to the Commons Treasury committee about tax policy after coronavirus.
After 2.50pm: Nicola Sturgeon gives a statement to the Scottish parliament about new coronavirus restrictions.
Afternoon: MPs debate the regulations imposing the latest restrictions in the north of England.
5pm: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, and David Frost, the UK’s chief EU negotiator, give evidence to the Commons Brexit committee.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and where they seem more important and interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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