Scotland puts the brakes on road map out of lockdown
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon blames Indian variant for delay in easing restrictions
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has delayed the country's road map out of lockdown because of concerns over the Indian variant.
Addressing the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, she said rising infections and large numbers of unvaccinated people meant the planned easing of restrictions would not go ahead.
Much of the country was expected to move down to level one restrictions on Monday but most will now stay on level two.
Ms Sturgeon said a "slight slowing down" of the restrictions was needed while vaccines continue to be distributed.
She said a cautionary delay was needed in response to the faster-spreading Indian strain to “avoid being knocked off course completely”.
“It is possible that from the unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated pool we would start to see hospital numbers go up,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“You don’t have to go very far to hear public health experts urging caution at this time.”
About 45 per cent of over-18s in Scotland are fully vaccinated with both doses, while 73 per cent have received one dose.
Under Scotland’s level two restrictions, groups of six can meet indoors and hospitality venues can be open for business.
Level one restrictions grant even greater flexibility on social mixing whereby all leisure and entertainment businesses – apart from nightclubs – can open.
Glasgow, the last part of the country on level three restrictions, will move to level two on Friday, allowing its citizens to meet indoors for the first time in months.
Scotland’s decision to delay comes as pressure mounts on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do the same for England.
Scientists say more people need to be inoculated before plans to lift social distancing rules and the remaining restrictions can go ahead on June 21.
Prof Ravi Gupta, a government adviser, said there was a "real risk now of generalised transmission in young people who are not vaccinated”.
He suggested a one-month delay until schools are closed for holidays for the next stage to proceed.
On Monday, 3,383 new cases were confirmed in the UK – the sixth consecutive day that the figure has topped 3,000 – and one death was reported. The majority of new cases related to the Indian variant.
Published: June 1, 2021 06:21 PM