The First Minister has hinted that she is about to initiate a long-term shift away from restrictions as Scots start “learning to live” with the virus. Speaking ahead of her Covid announcement to MSPs on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon insisted that temporary rules brought in over the Christmas period to curb the Omicron spread had made a difference. However, the SNP leader urged Scots to ask themselves “what adaptations to pre-pandemic life” might be needed so the country can live with coronavirus. Her hint at shifting approach comes hours ahead of a Covid update in Holyrood on Tuesday where she is expected to announce whether temporary restrictions can now be relaxed.
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When will Nicola Sturgeon make her announcement?
Nicola Sturgeon will deliver her Covid update in Holyrood at 2pm.
She is expected to share the latest Covid data for Scotland as well as give an update on the efficacy of the current restrictions.
Scots could have to wear masks for years
Scots could have to wear facemasks for years to come as the First Minister prepares to brief the nation on “living with Covid”.
Speaking ahead of today’s announcement about extending restrictions beyond next week, Miss Sturgeon said face coverings “might be required in the longer-term to enable us to live with it [Covid] with far fewer protective measures”.
The SNP leader also said the health service would need to be managed differently to cope with Covid in the long term, with more patients treated at home instead of in hospital.
Majority of Scots do not believe restrictions are proportionate, new poll reveals
Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) spoke out yesterday after a poll of its members found that two-thirds believe that the measures in place are no longer proportionate to the risk posed by Omicron.
AGCC director Ryan Crighton demanded: “The First Minister must announce the end of these damaging restrictions this week.
“Not doing so places the very survival of many businesses at risk and jobs on the line.”
Meanwhile, more than two-fifths warned they could have to cut staff if the restrictions are not eased.
Hospitality bosses plead for social distancing to be dropped
Hospitality bosses are lobbying the Scottish Government for social distancing and crowd limitation rules to be dropped.
Peter Duthie, chief executive of the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, revealed his business has lost about £2m in revenue as a result of the latest restrictions.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “It’s been a hugely challenging couple of years for the industry and just when a degree of fragile confidence was returning before Christmas we were then hit by this further lockdown.
“Events matter to people – whether it’s sporting events, concerts, live exhibitions – they all play a big part in people’s lives.”
‘Scots need urgent answers,’ says Labour
Scots need “urgent answers” and clear guidance for how the nation will proceed in the coming weeks, said Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s spokeswoman on covid recovery.
She said: “People and businesses need urgent answers – but too often the SNP have seemed more concerned with spin than facts.
“We need to make sure any and all restrictions are rooted firmly in the evidence and backed up by proper financial support.
“We also need a real plan to protect health and social care which have been pushed to breaking point due to staffing shortages.
“Hospitals up and down the country are struggling to cope and the lack of social care packages are leaving vulnerable people stranded without support.
“The First Minister must provide the real solutions we need to protect lives and livelihoods through this wave.”
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s spokeswoman on covid recovery (Image: GETTY)
Sturgeon hints at move away from harsh restrictions
Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots to rethink their approach to Covid restrictions, advocating fewer long-term curbs to public life.
Speaking on STV News, she said: “Sometimes when you hear people talk about learning to live with Covid, what seems to be suggested is that one morning we’ll wake up and not have to worry about it anymore, and not have to do anything to try to contain and control it.
“That’s not what I mean when I say ‘learning to live with it’.
“Instead, we will have to ask ourselves what adaptations to pre-pandemic life – face coverings, for example – might be required in the longer-term to enable us to live with it with far fewer protective measures.
“We are in a position where we all want to get to as much normality as possible. All of us, me included, really crave that.
“But we need to recognise that this virus, although we hope Omicron is milder than previous variants, this virus still takes lives and it still causes significant health impacts for people.
“So we have got to treat it seriously and not underestimate the damage that it can do.”
Sturgeon hints at move away from harsh restrictions (Image: GETTY)