NICOLA Sturgeon has today warned that harsher lockdown restrictions could be coming for Scotland as she recalls Parliament for an urgent meeting tomorrow.
The First Minister confirmed the Scottish Government is to reconvene tomorrow after concerns were raised by how rapidly the new strain of Covid-19 is spreading.
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She said she would be recalling Parliament on Monday afternoon, to discuss further measures due to “a rapid increase in Covid cases” causing “very serious concerns”.
It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today called for a national lockdown to come into force within the next 24 hours – urging Boris Johnson to "do it now".
Scotland has seen an increase of 2,464 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours.
This is higher than Saturday’s confirmed increase of 2,137 new cases. The daily test positivity rate is now at 15.2% – up from 10.8% on Saturday.
Ms Sturgeon hinted she may have to introduce tougher restrictions and said she “must take all steps” to slow the spread.
She is hoping to set out her decisions in a statement after tomorrow’s urgent meeting.
In a series of tweets, Ms Sturgeon said: “The rapid increase in Covid cases, driven by the new variant, is of very serious concern.
“The steep increases and severe NHS pressure being experienced in other parts of the UK is a sign of what may lie ahead. So we must take all steps to slow spread while vaccination progresses.
“We, like other countries, are in a race between this faster spreading strain of Covid and the vaccination programme.
“As we work to vaccinate as quickly as possible, we must also do more to slow down the virus – to save lives and help the NHS care for all those who need it.
“Following a meeting of the Scottish government resilience committee yesterday to assess the latest situation, the Cabinet will meet tomorrow am to consider further action to limit spread and I’ve asked for Scottish Parliament to be recalled tomorrow afternoon so that I can set out our decisions in a statement.
“All decisions just now are tough, with tough impacts. Vaccines give us a way out, but this new strain makes the period between now and then the most dangerous since the start of the pandemic.
I’ve asked for Scottish Parliament to be recalled tomorrow afternoon so that I can set out our decisions in a statement."
“So the responsibility of government must be to act quickly and decisively in the national interest.”
This is just the fifth time Parliament has been recalled and the second time within the last four weeks.
Previously, it was convened after the deaths of Donald Dewar in October 2000 and the Queen Mother in April 2002.
It was also reconvened following the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi in 2009.
The First Minister added: “For now, please continue to take Covid seriously – it is a real threat to life and health and, if it runs out of control, it damages the economy more too.
“Please stay at home as much as possible and avoid non-essential interactions with other households. Thank you.”
It comes as the Prime Minister today refused to rule out a “Tier 5” lockdown and warned he may have to introduce tougher coronavirus restrictions “in the next few weeks”.
The PM could not rule out curfews, return to single hour exercise a day and a ban on household mixing or a total national lockdown.
Asked if a “Tier 5” was on the way he said the restrictive system is “probably about to get tougher.”
In Scotland, no further deaths were recorded on Sunday as the register offices are closed over the public holidays.
As of December 31, 4,578 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died.
The Cabinet is expected to be recalled on Monday morning to discuss any additional measures that may be required to stop the spread of coronavirus.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The recent, rapid increase in Covid cases in Scotland, driven by the new variant of the virus, is a very serious concern.
“The even steeper rises and severe pressure on the NHS that is being experienced in some other parts of the UK is a sign of what may lie ahead in Scotland if we do not take all possible steps now to slow the spread of the virus, while the vaccination programme progresses.
“The First Minister has therefore asked that Parliament be recalled from recess on Monday afternoon to allow her to make an urgent statement on further measures to suppress transmission.
“This will come after a meeting of the Cabinet on Monday morning. The Education Recovery Group will also meet on Monday.
“The strong message remains that people should stay at home as much as possible and avoid non-essential interaction with others.”
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