Sturgeon suggests delay in Scottish Covid lockdown easing

Scotland’s first minister said planned relaxation of restrictions on 28 June would ‘in all probability’ be paused

A further relaxation of Covid controls across Scotland is likely to be pushed back by three weeks, Nicola Sturgeon has said, meaning that the next significant easing could coincide with England on 19 July after Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay on Monday.

But Scotland’s first minister denied that restrictions would remain in place until September, after the country’s national clinical director, Jason Leitch, warned that the Delta variant had pushed back the timetable by up to 10 weeks.

Sturgeon told the Holyrood chamber on Tuesday afternoon that the planned easing of restrictions on 28 June would be paused “in all probability” to allow more people to be vaccinated.

“We need to buy sufficient time for vaccination to get ahead and stay ahead of the virus, and that is the reason for caution at this juncture,” she said.

Sturgeon said her government was “doing all we can as quickly as we can” to fully vaccinate the adult population, and also making preparations for the possible vaccination of 12-17-year-olds as well as potential booster vaccinations in the autumn, depending on the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

With the country’s mainland council areas expected to remain in either level one or level two, Sturgeon added that her government would consider more minor interim changes: “I am aware that – as restrictions have eased – perceived anomalies have arisen, and I understand how frustrating that can be, even though there will be a rational explanation for what may appear to be contradictory.”

She was later challenged by Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie about why nursery graduations and school sports days were cancelled while thousands of football fans can congregate at Glasgow’s Euro 2020 fan zone with alcohol and no mandatory testing. “The lack of logic and consistency in the rules is causing confusion and upset,” said Baillie. Sturgeon stressed that she had asked her advisers to reassess the guidance for nurseries and schools but that concerns remained the same.

Sturgeon also said that next week the Scottish government will publish a paper setting out a route map “beyond level 0” as well as the outcome of its review of physical distancing, which would offer future guidance for hospitality and arts venues.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, the finance ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland wrote jointly to the UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, calling for an urgent meeting to discuss a range of recovery issues, including the continuation of furlough.

The Welsh government is expected to announce later this week whether it will relax the rules on people meeting inside each other’s homes, while 21 June is still expected to see relaxation of rules on indoor mixing in Northern Ireland.

On Monday Boris Johnson halted the final easing of lockdown restrictions in England and ordered a four-week delay to speed up the vaccination programme.


Libby Brooks

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Nicola Sturgeon sets out timeline for easing Scotland's Covid lockdown
In her most detailed route map yet, the first minister says restrictions should be substantially lifted by June

Severin Carrell Scotland editor

16, Mar, 2021 @4:47 PM

Article image
Nicola Sturgeon announces easing of Scotland's lockdown
First minister says shops with access from street, factories and outdoor markets can reopen from 29 June

Severin Carrell Scotland editor

18, Jun, 2020 @12:36 PM

Article image
Nicola Sturgeon unveils plans for easing Scotland's Covid restrictions
First minister says lockdown will remain for at least six weeks, with gradual easing after 5 April

Severin Carrell Scotland editor

23, Feb, 2021 @4:40 PM

Article image
Sturgeon: separate Scottish lockdown exit plan may be logical
First minister says evidence may direct her towards different strategy to rest of UK

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

17, Apr, 2020 @1:50 PM

Article image
Sturgeon unveils five-level Covid lockdown rules for Scotland
First minister says highest level is similar to lockdown imposed across UK in March

Severin Carrell Scotland editor

23, Oct, 2020 @2:35 PM

Article image
Covid solidarity will oil wheels of new Scottish independence referendum – Sturgeon
But Scottish first minister repeats promise to postpone poll until coronavirus crisis is over

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

12, Sep, 2021 @11:19 PM

Article image
'Compelling evidence' Covid vaccinations working, Sturgeon says
First minister cites data showing significant decline in care home deaths in Scotland

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

18, Feb, 2021 @3:45 PM

Article image
Strain emerges between UK government and Scotland over easing lockdown
Scottish secretary says Edinburgh and London must be in ‘lockstep’ on relaxing restrictions

Severin Carrell and Steven Morris

06, May, 2020 @5:37 PM

Article image
Nicola Sturgeon announces new Covid advice for Scotland
First minister asks public to keep festive celebrations ‘as small as your family circumstances allow’

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

14, Dec, 2021 @3:26 PM

Article image
Scotland 'not going back to March' lockdown, Sturgeon says
First minister reassures public additional Covid restrictions will not amount to lockdown

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

06, Oct, 2020 @3:23 PM