Lockdown: ‘I would rule that out’ says Kwasi Kwarteng
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The Scottish Government is considering introducing new measures to ensure that a full-strength lockdown will not be needed over Christmas. Deputy First Minister John Swinney highlighted that there may be a need for proof that punters are double-jabbed to gain entry to pubs, restaurants or gyms in order to protect Christmas.
Mr Swinney, 57, said that face masks may also be needed in more settings, as well as an urge for companies to encourage more staff working from home.
The 57-year-old outlined the potential plans in a statement to Holyrood, saying that a decision could be made this week with the announcement coming next Tuesday.
The MSP said the 2,500 cases which Scotland was having each day were “concerningly high” and were not “anything like” the levels recorded after the two lockdowns during the pandemic.
He said: “The situation is precarious and unpredictable – if the previous pattern, characterised 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.”
Mr Swinney added: “We are not yet able to predict with confidence what will happen next.
“We certainly want to avoid the sort of strict lockdowns we had seen before most of us were vaccinated.
“But we do need to take appropriate measures to keep the pandemic under control.”
Mr Swinney continued: “We have been considering, for example, whether we may need to extend the Covid certification scheme to bring more settings into scope, such as further indoor hospitality and leisure settings.
“Among other possible interventions, we are exploring how we can help improve ventilation, what we could do to increase home working, and whether changes are needed to extend use of face masks.”
On a more positive note, the Deputy First Minister said that Scotland had administered more than one million booster jabs, describing this as a “major milestone”.
The new warnings given by the Scottish Government come after the Scottish Conservatives urged the SNP to give up their “extraordinary” Covid powers.
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for COVID Recovery, Murdo Fraser MSP, said: “As we move toward living with COVID-19, the SNP Government must set out a timeframe for giving up emergency powers, which were granted in response to the pandemic.
“To do otherwise would be a gross abuse of power and an affront to Scotland’s democracy.
“The Scottish Conservatives have raised concerns about the extension of emergency powers many times, yet the SNP have seemed determined to hold on to extra powers, for as long as possible.
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“This cannot continue indefinitely.”
He added: “The SNP have repeatedly shown that they have no respect for the scrutiny of parliament; rushing through legislation and leaking policies to the press, before addressing the Chamber.
“They must now set out plans to give up these extraordinary Covid powers, so that future emergency measures can be fully accountable to the Scottish Parliament.”
Scottish Liberal Democrats party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “When the pandemic hit, our country took a deep breath and granted deep and wide-ranging powers to the Government to get us through.
“Many powers were never meant to be forever and it would be an affront to democracy for the SNP to try to keep them on a permanent basis.
“The pandemic required new ways of working for all of us, some of which were overdue and for the better.
“If there are sensible reforms to be made, then these should go through the proper legislative process.
“What this must not be is a colossal SNP power grab, lining their pockets with powers that nobody would have countenanced handing over pre-pandemic.”
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