Sturgeon Says U.K. Nations May Ease Lockdown at Different Speeds

(Bloomberg) --

The U.K.’s four nations could start easing restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic at different rates if the medical evidence shows it’s necessary, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday after having spoken with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Sturgeon, who has strongly warned against lifting restrictions prematurely, spoke to Johnson along with the Welsh and Northern Irish leaders yesterday and welcomed the prime minister’s acknowledgment that different parts of the country “may well need to move at different speeds,” if the scientific evidence dictates.

“The risk remains too high for us to ease up now,” Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh on Friday. The Scottish leader on Thursday rebuffed Johnson’s plans to start easing as soon as Monday, arguing that the reproduction rate of the virus is still higher in Scotland than in the rest of the U.K.

Scotland’s semi-autonomous administration is responsible for education, health and other areas such as transportation and parts of the economy. While the country’s government has said it’s considering allowing more outdoor exercise, all other restrictions on movement and social contact remain firmly in place, Sturgeon said on Friday.

Almost 13,150 people have so far tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, with 1,811 confirmed as having died from the virus. Separate figures, which include deaths that are suspected of being related to the illness, show the number of fatalities at 2,795.

Johnson is expected to announce details of his government’s plans to ease the lockdown in a national address on Sunday. “I would anticipate that on Sunday into Monday any changes will be quite minor,” Sturgeon said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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