NICOLA Sturgeon today slammed the brakes on her lockdown roadmap – piling pressure on Boris Johnson ahead of June 21.
The First Minister paused plans to ease restrictions for millions of people on Saturday to “err on the side of caution” amid a rise in the Indian variant.
Her localised strategy contrasts with the PM who sees the pandemic as a “national endeavour” and wants to unlock all of England together.
But today’s decision in Scotland piles more pressure on the PM – already facing calls from scientists – to rethink June 21’s Freedom Day.
Speaking in Holyrood this afternoon, Mr Sturgeon said Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, North, South and East Ayrshire, North and South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Stirling would be kept back.
Scotland currently has the highest rate of new infections of the four nations of the UK.
Ms Sturgeon blamed the spread of the Indian variant and revealed the mutation now accounts for more than half of all new cases.
She warned the R-rate north of the border is above 1, which “from past, painful experience we know makes our situation highly precarious.”
But in lighter news Ms Sturgeon was confident that vaccines were slowly breaking the chain between cases, hospitalisations and deaths – and opens a pathway to relative normality this summer.
Glasgow’s rife variant outbreak is also stabilising and the city will finally move from Level 3 to 2 this weekend, she announced.
It means Glaswegians will be able to drink alcohol indoors, meet in private residences, and hug loved ones after months.
Highlighting the varying degrees of measures across Scotland, Ms Sturgeon gave the green light for remote areas like the Shetland Isles to drop into Level 0.
The First Minister said: “I appreciate that today’s decisions will feel like a mixed bag… the vaccines do make the outlook positive but the new variant do mean the road ahead is potentially bumpy. So caution is necessary.”
She acknowledged that millions would be dismayed about being forced to swallow tougher restrictions while others enjoyed more freedom – but said a targeted approach was the best policy.
Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “Everyone understands that there will be a need for local, targeted measures when an outbreak occurs.
“But leaving behind whole areas should be ruled out. Sweeping measures that unnecessarily hurt a whole city or council area are unfair on businesses and local people waiting to get on with their lives.”
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