COVID-19: Scotland lockdown extended until at least the middle of February, Nicola Sturgeon announces

January 19, 2021

Scotland's lockdown will be extended until at least the middle of February, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The first minister said that despite COVID-19 case numbers having "stabilised and even declined", any relaxation of the rules while infection rates remain high could "quickly send the situation into reverse".

Schools, which were meant to emerge from lockdown at the start of next month, will also remain closed along with nurseries to all those apart from vulnerable children and those of key workers until mid-February.

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The situation will be reviewed on February 2, with the possibility floated of a "phased return" to in-school learning.

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped the "strictest form of lockdown" will not last for "too much longer", but admitted some measures like face coverings, social distancing and possibly travel limitations "are likely to be necessary for some time".

Appealing to Scots to remain "cautious" despite the number of new coronavirus cases declining, she said: "We need to see these trends continue, to be more certain that this phase of the epidemic is now on a downward trajectory.

"We need to be realistic that any improvement we are seeing is down, at this stage, to the fact that we are staying at home and reducing our interactions.

"Any relaxation of lockdown while case numbers, even though they might be declining, nevertheless remain very high, could quickly send the situation into reverse."

The Island of Barra will be placed into lockdown from midnight on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon added - revealing 10% of its population had been forced to self-isolate.

Mainland Scotland was placed into lockdown on 4 January to tackle the rising spread of a new coronavirus variant.

All non-essential shops, pubs, cafes, bars, gyms and hairdressers are closed and travel restrictions prevent anyone leavening their local authority area, with limited exceptions.

On vaccines, Ms Sturgeon said the government was on track to be giving 400,000 people jabs a week by the end of February.

By the start of March, she said she hoped everyone over the age of 65 would have had their first dose - with everyone on the priority list inoculated by early May.

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