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Nicola Sturgeon defends ‘difficult’ decision on new local lockdown

The First Minister said doing nothing was ‘not an option’ after rising cases of Covid-19 in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives ahead of First Minster’s Questions (Jane Barlow/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives ahead of First Minster’s Questions (Jane Barlow/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives ahead of First Minster’s Questions (Jane Barlow/PA)

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 on Twitter she understands that people in the area are “frustrated”, but urged them to see the move as a “wake-up call”.

Speaking during First Minister’s questions in the Scottish Parliament, she said that “given the toll we know Covid can take, doing nothing was not an option”.

Ms Sturgeon said the restrictions had “not been put in place lightly”, adding they were “necessary and, we believe, proportionate”.

“We hope they will allow the spread to be contained at an early stage without the need for further measures later.

“They apply only in these three council areas right now, but I think they should be a wake-up call for all of us. If we let it, this virus will spread rapidly.

“The good news, though: if we all stick to some basic rules and continue to make some sacrifices, we can stop it.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament (Fraser Bremner/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament (Fraser Bremner/PA)

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament (Fraser Bremner/PA)

She said the data so far “suggests that transmission in the West of Scotland is happening not exclusively, but mainly in people’s homes”.

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 86 new positive coronavirus cases were recorded in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

On Wednesday, the death of one further person who had tested positive for Covid-19 was announced, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,495.

But the National Records of Scotland – which announces weekly figures of the number of people who have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus – said the death toll now stands at 4,228, with six additional cases in the week up until August 30.

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”.

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Nicola Sturgeon said the lockdown restrictions in the three local authority areas would be kep under review. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon said the lockdown restrictions in the three local authority areas would be kep under review. (Jane Barlow/PA)

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Nicola Sturgeon said the lockdown restrictions in the three local authority areas would be kep under review. (Jane Barlow/PA)

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.”

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