UK nations may move at different speeds on easing lockdown – Sturgeon

The four UK nations may need to move at different speeds on easing lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon said as she urged Scots to stick with the current coronavirus restrictions.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson spoke with the leaders of the devolved nations on Thursday, ahead of an expected announcement on easing parts of the lockdown in England on Sunday.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced three “modest adjustments” from Monday to restrictions there.

But Ms Sturgeon has said the only change in Scotland would be allowing people to leave their house for exercise more than once a day.

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, she said there was a “helpful recognition” in her call with the Prime Minister that the “four UK nations may well move at different speeds if our data about the spread of the virus says that that is necessary to suppress it”.

But she added that planning and messaging would continue to be co-ordinated.

The Scottish Government said its data suggests that the R-number is higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK.

The First Minister also gave the latest Covid-19 statistics.

A total of 1,811 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 49 from 1,762 on Thursday.

The First Minister said 13,149 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 225 from 12,924 the day before.

There are 84 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, and 1,584 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of three.

The First Minister also announced that testing capacity has increased by “more than 2,000” and, taken with the Lighthouse Laboratories established by the UK Government, the total capacity has now risen to “more than 10,000 per day”.

The First Minister also said she expected the Scottish capacity to rise to 12,000 by next Friday.

She also announced that the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund for small and medium sized businesses will be doubled from £45 million to £90 million.

The fund provides grants to small businesses that are deemed to be vital to their local areas, but put in a vulnerable position by the coronavirus crisis.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone

Chief constable Iain Livingstone was also in attendance at the briefing, saying that communities across Scotland have “stepped forward” during the pandemic.

He said there were “high levels” of compliance with policing during the lockdown, and surveys have suggested that support for policing is higher than usual.

The chief constable added: “It’s my plea today, underlining what the First Minister has said, for everyone to continue exercising the self-discipline, commitment and common sense which has thus far served us well.

“It is essential to protect the National Health Service and save lives; please stick with it.”

Mr Livingstone also said police officers will continue to “act with courtesy and common sense” as the lockdown restrictions continue.