Scotland Extends Virus Lockdown Until at Least Mid-February

Scotland extended its lockdown until at least the middle of February as the rate of coronavirus infections puts severe pressure on the health service.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the current restrictions, including the closure of schools and non-essential stores, will be reviewed again on Feb. 2. She told the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh that it’s still unclear whether a phased return of school children can be announced then.

“Our reluctant judgment is that community transmission is too high and is likely to remain so,” she said.

The Scottish government, which has control over health policy, put much of the country into lockdown after Christmas along with the rest of the U.K. as a new strain of Covid-19 spread rapidly. It has also shut borders to non-essential travel and all arrivals must quarantine.

Case numbers have stabilized and even declined in some areas, which shows the lockdown is having an impact, Sturgeon said. But just under 2,000 people are in hospital, 30% more than the last peak in April.

Sturgeon defended the rollout of a vaccine program after criticism over supply in some areas and promised that in three months time, 3 million people will have received their first dose of the vaccine. The rest of Scotland’s 5.5 million people will receive theirs “as quickly as supplies allow.”

“This phase is on a downward trajectory, but we need to be realistic that it’s because we are staying at home,” she said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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