Scotland’s deputy first minister has urged the country to stick with the new measures introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament earlier on Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced “difficult but important temporary measures” which will begin on Friday evening.
While pubs and restaurants in most areas will only be able to open indoor spaces between 6am and 6pm, similar establishments in five health boards across the central belt – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and the Forth Valley – face 16 days of closure.
Appearing on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme, John Swinney was asked how the public would react to the latest round of restrictions with people not allowed to visit others inside their homes over the last few weeks.
“But what I would appeal to people to do is essentially stick with this and stick with us on these measures.
“Without the interventions that we have set out today and without the level of public compliance that we have needed throughout this pandemic, I’m afraid the virus will spread to a much more significant level within our community.
“We’re already seeing hospital admissions rising, we’re seeing the position on admission to intensive care increasing, and sadly we’re seeing the number of fatalities increasing as well.
“The warning signs are all there for us, and what we want to do is to take early, swift action to intervene, to ensure that the virus does not get as much of a grip as it got earlier on in the year, where we saw very clearly the very significant implications it could have.
Hospitality business outside the five restricted areas of the central belt will also be barred from selling alcohol indoors – and only to do so outside until 10pm.
Ms Sturgeon’s announcement included an additional £40 million to support firms affected by the new temporary measures.
She also said the Scottish Government will discuss how to mitigate employers’ contributions to the UK Government’s job retention scheme.
But the Food and Drink Federation Scotland said it is “extremely disappointed” with the restrictions, while Scotland Food and Drink describe the action as a “hammer blow”.
Mr Swinney added: “We’ve put in place the very restrictive measures for the next 16 days, or 16 days starting from Friday, with the objective of giving us an opportunity to suppress the virus.
“We will then return to the restrictions as they currently exist within Scotland today, and we hope that that will be enough to get the virus under control.
“Obviously we’ll look at the data very closely, we’ve published a detailed evidence paper that demonstrates where the problems are coming from and how we’re trying to address those.
“We hope that by the end of this month, we’ve got much better control of the virus – enabling us to continue the opening up of society as we have been able to do so far.
“But I don’t think there can be any guarantee of that point, and that’s an important point – this needs a huge amount of public compliance to make sure we are successful, and as a consequence make sure we are all safe as a result.”