COP26 Host Scotland Considers Tighter Covid Rules as Cases Jump
Scotland is looking at tightening coronavirus restrictions because of a high level of new cases as it hosts the United Nations climate summit in its largest city.
The government expects case numbers to increase further in the coming weeks, partly due to the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told lawmakers on Tuesday. The administration in Edinburgh “cannot rule out” strengthening existing measures to avoid the need for any future lockdowns, Swinney said.
“The situation is precarious and unpredictable,” he said. “If the previous pattern -- characterized by waves of infection -- is repeated, there is a risk that the spread of the virus could, very quickly, increase again during the coming weeks, perhaps over the Christmas period.”
More than 25,000 delegates have descended on Glasgow for COP26, though everyone is tested daily and the government said last week the infection rate at the summit was just 0.1%. Yet the city also has hosted tens of thousands of climate protesters and various fringe events.
Measures being considered include an extension of the vaccine passport program and tightening rules on face coverings, as well as encouraging more Scots to work from home where possible. Under the U.K.’s devolution of power, Scotland is responsible for its own health policy.
The most recent peak in coronavirus cases was recorded at the start of September after schools reopened the previous month. The spread of Covid-19 hasn’t declined as expected since then, Swinney said. The government has said that the health service is under more strain than at any time during the pandemic and is heading into a tough winter.
Scotland recorded 2,233 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to almost 667,000. More than 9,300 people have died, according to government figures.
Among COP26 attendees to test positive for the virus were an aide to U.S. President Joe Biden and the mayor of Los Angeles.
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