oris Johnson has been warned further easing of lockdown restrictions could lead to a third wave of coronavirus infections during the summer as he faces a growing row over vaccine passports.
The Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that pubs with beer gardens, shops and hairdressers will reopen as planned from April 12 as infections and deaths continue to fall.
Sage (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) has said that stage two of the unlocking is unlikely to exert pressure on the NHS, but changes planned for May and June when social mixing is set to be permitted again could cause hospital admissions to rise to levels seen during January’s winter peak.
Schools in Scotland will reopen fully after the Easter break
Nicola Sturgeon said: “Having assessed the data with the input of our clinical advisers, when the Easter holidays end virtually all pupils will return to school full time, so secondary schools after Easter will go back to in-person, full-time learning.
“The one exception to this is children that are on the shielding list, we are continuing to recommend that they stay at home until April 26 and that’s in line with the advice already received from the chief medical officer.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “This, I know, will be a huge relief to many children and young people and of course to many parents and carers and as I said a moment ago, by the end of April we want to see children on the shielding list get back to school in person as well.”
Boris Johnson defends the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
Regulators in the UK and Europe are examining potential links between the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and rare blood clots.
The Prime Minister said during a visit to AstraZeneca’s manufacturing plant in Macclesfield: “On the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the best thing people should do is look at what the MHRA say, our independent regulator – that’s why we have them, that’s why they are independent.
“Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab.”
Every person in Scotland will be able to get tested for Covid-19 twice a week – Nicola Sturgeon
The First Minister announced the programme, mirroring a similar initiative in England, at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.
She said: “This testing will be in addition to and will supplement the additional testing routes that are in place in priority areas.”
She added: “This more universal approach to asymptomatic testing will allow us to assess the impact that might have on further suppressing transmission.”
The system will use lateral flow tests and more detail will be provided by the Scottish Government later this week, Ms Sturgeon said.
Scenes on the Meadows in Edinburgh over the weekend are of “considerable concern”, says Nicola Sturgeon
Speaking at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said police officers should not have to disperse crowds, after a video surfaced of a major fight between young people at the park.
The First Minister said: “I know the restrictions remain really tough and I know why people want to meet up in larger groups, I think we all have a desperate desire to see more of our friends and family.
“But the fact remains, the best way for all of us to be able to do that, in the hopefully near future is to keep those case numbers as low as possible as the vaccination programme continues to gather pace.
“The best way to do that for all of us is to try to take the sensible precautions and abide by all of the advice that is in place.”
Coronavirus is down but not out in Scotland, says Nicola Sturgeon
The First Minister warned Scots that there is still a risk of Covid-19 spikes as are being seen in other countries, despite relatively low numbers north of the border.
She told the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh: “In total, cases have now fallen by 80% since early January when of course they were at a particularly high level, the number of deaths has fallen even more sharply than that and as you can see from the numbers I reported earlier the number of people in hospital and intensive care is reducing.”
But she added: “Covid is down in Scotland, you can see that from the figures, but as we can still see here and more starkly in more parts of the world, Covid is not out.
“It is a virus that is very much still with us.
“Here in Scotland we are still seeing hundreds of people every day testing positive for it and almost all of the new cases that we are seeing reported now in Scotland are of the new variant that emerged just before Christmas and as we know that variant is more infectious than the variants we were dealing with earlier this year.”
First batch of newly approved Moderna vaccines arrived in Scotland on Monday
Scotland is due to receive more than one million of the 17 million doses ordered by the UK.
Nicola Sturgeon said the doses have already been factored into forward planning for the vaccination programme, and will be delivered over the coming months.
Addressing the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, she said: “The fact that we now have three vaccines in use is clearly very welcome and it does give us greater security of supply which is welcome.”
Scotland records no deaths of Covid-19 patients for the fourth day running
The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,614.
Speaking at a Scottish Government briefing, Nicola Sturgeon stressed deaths registered are often lower at the weekends.
She said 259 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, giving a daily test positivity rate of 2%, down from 2.5% on Monday.
Of the new cases, 93 were in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, with 44 in NHS Lothian and 32 in NHS Lanarkshire, and the rest split over six other health boards.
EU nations expect ‘to be able to vaccinate majority by end of June’
The EU wants to immunize 70% of adults by the end of the summer, which — depending on the demographics of each member state — corresponds to around 55-60% of total population.
Scottish pubs face ‘day of reckoning’ as Government help ends, industry bosses warn
The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) accused ministers at Holyrood of “needlessly cutting a financial lifeline”, before many businesses will be able to fully reopen.
Under the current Scottish Government roadmap for easing restrictions, venues such as cafes, pubs and restaurants can open for business again from April 26.
SHG said firms would stop receiving help from from the Scottish Government’s strategic framework business fund from April 19 – when they expect to get a one-off grant aimed at helping them with the costs of restarting.
SHG spokesman, Stephen Montgomery, branded the Scottish Government proposals “senseless”.
He said: “A day of reckoning is coming for debt-strapped Scottish businesses and as politicians prioritise the electoral trail, they are needlessly cutting a financial lifeline.
“The only certainty the SHG can take from this roadmap is that our strategic grant support will be ended on April 19. It’s senseless and again highlights Ministers’ lack of knowledge of our sector – 12 months down the line this is pitiful.
“Grants should be maintained until a business can return to trading normally.”
Heathrow boss: ‘No reason to delay’ return of air travel after May 17
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye was speaking after Boris Johnson said yesterday he remained “hopeful” that flying abroad could be made legal by the date originally laid out in the roadmap out of lockdown.