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Covid in Scotland: Cabinet due to meet over new restrictions

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Scotland’s national clinical director has said a lockdown would help Scotland “buy time” ahead of the winter The Scottish cabinet is due to meet later to discuss the possible reintroduction of tougher restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19.Some government advisers have backed the idea of a “circuit breaker”…

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Scotland’s national clinical director has said a lockdown would help Scotland “buy time” ahead of the winter

The Scottish cabinet is due to meet later to discuss the possible reintroduction of tougher restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Some government advisers have backed the idea of a “circuit breaker” lockdown as a “short, sharp shock”.

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that further measures could be rolled out “in the near future”.

A further 697 cases of the virus were confirmed on Monday. The numbers being treated in hospital are also rising.

There are currently 218 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 22 of them in intensive care.

The first minister said on Monday it was “vital that we do everything we can” to slow the virus and that “not acting costs lives”.

National Clinical Director Jason Leitch has told BBC Scotland a “circuit-breaker” lockdown could push the course of the pandemic back by 28 days and “buy time” ahead of winter.

However, Ms Sturgeon stressed that the term circuit breaker could mean “a number of things”, and said she would give the public and parliament “as much notice as possible” about any changes.

It is expected the first minister will announce any new restrictions to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday. She is understood to have held talks with opposition leaders on Monday evening.

BBC Scotland’s political editor Brian Taylor said Ms Sturgeon would be seeking “buy-in” from opposition parties and the public.

He added that it was possible the Scottish government would announce some Scotland-wide measures which perhaps could be “topped up” by additional local restrictions which applied to the most seriously affected areas, like Glasgow.

What would a circuit breaker look like?

The Scottish government has not indicated what sort of extra restrictions could be introduced.

However, Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said it was possible to look to other countries to see what measures they had introduced recently to try to halt the surge of new coronavirus cases.

Paris announced on Monday that it was shutting all bars after the French government raised the city’s coronavirus alert to maximum following a period of high infection rates.

Bars, gyms and swimming pools in the city will all be closed for two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

“We want to reduce household mixing – in other words, meeting other people indoors,” Ms Bauld told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

“So let’s think about the fact that we’re not able to do that across Scotland in terms of going into someone else’s house – that’s already in place. So what else could government do to reduce that?

“That would mean, unfortunately, temporarily shutting hospitality venues [and] maybe other venues where they’ve got data from Test and Protect that things are more risky.”

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A circuit-breaker lockdown could include the closing of hospitality venues and travel restrictions

The professor said the Scottish government was also likely to be considering the restriction of movement of people – either coming into the country or around the country.

She told BBC Scotland the purpose of the circuit-breaker would be to “buy time”.

“You are trying to reduce the rates of transmission, the speed of transmission,” she said.

“We can see the numbers going up… what we’re trying to achieve there is stop the growth of the curve of the pandemic, buy time to do other things and to improve your capacity to respond to it, particularly as we head into winter.”

Ms Bauld added that two or three weeks would be needed for any sort of lockdown period to have an effect, but it would need to be balanced against the “incredible damage” it did to the economy and people’s mental health.

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.