Nicola Sturgeon defends ‘difficult’ decision on new local lockdown

Nicola Sturgeon has defended the decision to impose new local lockdown restrictions on Glasgow and some surrounding areas, insisting that doing nothing was “not an option” in the face of rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

The First Minister spoke out after some 800,000 people living in the Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire areas were told not to visit other people’s homes.

The new measures – which have been put in place for the next two weeks – also mean that indoor visits to hospitals and care homes will now be limited to “essential visits”.

Ms Sturgeon, the MSP for Glasgow Southside, said she understands that people in the area are “frustrated”, but urged them to see the move as a “wake-up call”.

The First Minister tweeted: “I know how difficult all this is. I hate having to take these decisions and you all hate the impact of them.

“My plea is that we treat yesterday’s developments as a wake up call and take seriously our individual responsibilities to stop #COVID spreading.”

The new restrictions, which came into place from midnight on Tuesday, will be reviewed every seven days.

They were introduced after the latest daily figures showed 66 new positive coronavirus cases were recorded in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

While across Scotland the number of positive cases of coronavirus is 9.2 per 100,000 people, in Glasgow it stands at 21.8, in East Renfrewshire it is 18.8, and in West Dunbartonshire it rises to 32.6 per 100,000, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said.

Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that the authorities are dealing with a “sizeably different position in these local authority areas”.

He added: “We feel we have to nip this particular problem in the bud in the West of Scotland.”

Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon said: “The virus is spreading again – in the West of Scotland especially – and the rise in cases in these three areas is a particular concern.

“Given the toll we know Covid can take, doing nothing is not an option.”

She added that “data suggests that spread in and between households is driving much of the transmission just now”.

Based on that, she said, “clinical advice is that restricting household gatherings indoors – where it is most difficult to keep physical distance – is vital”.

Ms Sturgeon said closing pubs in the affected areas “wouldn’t be an alternative to that” but instead is an additional measure which is not – for now – considered to be “proportionate”.

The First Minister continued: “Coupled with the extended advice on isolation for anyone with potential exposure to the virus, we hope these targeted measures will be sufficient to prevent further spread – if people comply with them.

“However, we will need to keep situation under review.

“When we face these situations, there are no good options for those taking decisions. Our objective is to stem spread with the least impact on lives and the economy.

“But we must all try to stop the virus spreading in first place – Government can’t do that alone.”

Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council said the new lockdown measures are “absolutely necessary, albeit very disappointing”.

“I don’t think any of us wanted to be in a position where we have to take a step backwards but the figures speak for themselves,” she said.

“The new infection rate, the incidence rate per 100,000 population in the city of Glasgow is more than double the national average right now so we can’t ignore that.

“Action has to be taken and I think what is particularly important about this action, which is limited … we are not having to go to the stage of closing businesses or schools, which we absolutely want to avoid.”