Nicola Sturgeon faces BACKLASH over Covid Levels system – new regions risk strict lockdown

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The First Minister set out a draft framework on which lockdown levels will apply to different parts of Scotland after warning hospital admissions were likely to rise for some time yet. The proposals were debated by MSPs this afternoon before a vote this evening.

The levels will range from 0 to 4, and under Level 4, restrictions will be much closer to the full lockdown seen at the end of March with Ms Sturgeon stressing it would only be used if absolutely necessary.

But Neil Findlay interrupted the First Minister’s speech on Tuesday insisting the SNP leader should not be imposing her decisions “without scrutiny”.

The Scottish Labour MSP said: “Scrutiny is absolutely essential, we have been given a number of documents at 12pm today, this is very complex stuff.

“We have had no opportunity to consult with businesses in our area, local authorities and constituents.


“We cannot go on as we are at the moment with having things imposed without scrutiny.”

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives in Holyrood called for Nicola Sturgeon to relax restrictions over Christmas to allow family members to socialise.

She said: “We need a plan for Christmas.

“If we want people to continue working within the rules for the long-term, they shouldn’t be faced with a choice where family needs override their buy in to compliance.”

Richard Leonard, leader of Scottish Labour, added: “The government has been trying to build a cross-party consensus over the last week.

“We need to get this right: communities are suffering and businesses are suffering, Scotland has already paid a price.

“Members of this Parliament need to be able to ask questions of Government ministers in this Parliament about this framework in advance of us voting on it.”

In Levels 0 and 1, pubs and restaurants can open as normal, although in Level 1 a 10:30pm curfew will be imposed.

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In Level 3 bars and restaurants will not be permitted to sell alcohol either indoors or outside and must close by 6pm.

In Level 4 such premises would be closed, along with non-essential stores, visitor attractions, gyms, libraries and hairdressers.

Level 4 restrictions will only be imposed if “absolutely necessary as a short, sharp intervention to address extremely high transmission rates,” Ms Sturgeon pledged.

Speaking as Holyrood debated plans to bring in a five-tier system of restrictions, Ms Sturgeon confirmed ministers were considering imposing the very toughest measures on the North and South Lanarkshire council areas.

The First Minister said the Highlands Council area, as well as Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and Moray, could go straight into Level 1 – the second-lowest tier in the new plan.

She added: “For all of Scotland our aim is to get to Level 1 and then to Level 0 of the framework as quickly as it is possible to do.

“We know it is possible because over the summer we got to the very low levels of transmission that would be needed for that.

“If we dig in now and get COVID under more control, we perhaps open the door not to 100 percent normality by Christmas, but hopefully more than we have right now. We all want to see that.”

But the plan has also sparked fury from the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), who raised concerns in an open letter to parliament, over plans to keep schools fully open at all levels.

In a joint statement, UKHospitality Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Scottish Beer and Pub Association and Scottish Hospitality Group, said higher levels of restrictions will require higher levels of support for businesses, asking they be, at least, in line with levels in England.

The debate at Holyrood took place after Scotland recorded another 25 deaths from coronavirus and 1,327 positive tests in the past 24 hours.

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