Nicola Sturgeon expected to impose ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions on Friday

NICOLA Sturgeon is expected to announce the temporary closure of pubs and restaurants and curbs to travel bans in some hot spot areas from Friday night when she sets out new “circuit breaker” restrictions.

The First Minister yesterday ruled out a full lockdown and a nationwide travel ban like that introduced in March, but said a range of measures were under consideration.

Speaking at the daily briefing in Edinburgh, she said schools will not be closed “wholly or even partially”, and the Scottish Government will not “shut down the entire economy” or “halt the re-mobilisation of the NHS”.

“We are not proposing another lockdown at this stage,” she said. “Not even on a temporary basis.”

The First Minister said the Scottish Cabinet, which met yesterday morning, had not reached “final decisions” on what further measures will be introduced.

The Scottish Sun yesterday quoted an NHS source who claims to have been given notice of the new mini-lockdown.

“We’ve been told to expect it from 7pm on Friday,” they told the paper.

A leaked Scottish Government document two weeks ago revealed the temporary return to a near-lockdown was being pencilled in to coincide with “the tattie holidays”, which have already begun in some parts of the country.

Schools in Glasgow close to pupils from tomorrow, with Friday an in-service day in some areas for teachers.

Another Cabinet meeting is planned for this morning before a statement to the Scottish Parliament at around 3pm.

The First Minister said she wanted to give people some insight into the issues ministers are “grappling with” as they try to contain the virus.

She said the additional restrictions were needed as her government was receiving public health advice that action over and above existing restrictions, which include a 10pm pub curfew and a ban on visiting other households inside, is necessary.

Two more coronavirus deaths were announced yesterday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2532.

A total of 800 new cases were recorded and 44 more people are in hospital, with three more patients in intensive care.

She said most parts of Scotland now had infection levels higher than 50 cases per 100,000 people – recalling local lockdown measures had been introduced in Aberdeen when infections there reached 20 cases per 100,000 people.

“We’re also now beginning to see spread from the younger age group of the population into the older age groups,” she said.

“Again, the numbers being admitted to hospitals and intensive care, and, sadly, the number of people dying, are also increasing.”

She stressed: “The situation is not out of control, but it is a cause of increasing concern.”

When a ban on going into other people’s homes was announced two weeks ago, she said there were an average of 285 new cases a day – but she said this had now risen to 729. “That shows you how even in those two weeks the situation has accelerated,” she said.

As well as considering new restrictions, ministers are looking at if these need to be put in place nationally, regionally, “or a bit of both”, she said.

She also said ministers were “thinking of how we best mitigate the economic impact of any decisions we take, even within the limited powers the Scottish Government has”.

“None of this is easy. In many ways this is actually the most difficult decision point yet,” she said.

“When we took the decisions back in March that just focused on locking down to stop the virus, none of the economic and social harm had been done.

“We now have all of that to consider as well, so these decisions have to be very carefully balanced.”

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