Nicola Sturgeon has decided against delaying the lockdown easing in Scotland, amid mounting pressure as Covid rates north of the border continue to soar.
At a special briefing this afternoon, the second this week, the First Minister emphasised the need for people to get vaccinated rather than implementing additional restrictions. She added that in Scotland there are far fewer cases in hospital now than at the peak of the last wave, and at any time before that.
Sturgeon stressed that everyone must get the jab, get tested regularly, and follow the rules specific to the area where they live. This comes after nearly 1,300 Scotland fans tested positive for the virus after travelling to London to watch their team play on 18 June. There have been a total of almost 2,000 football-related cases.
Yesterday, Scotland recorded more than 4,000 coronavirus cases in a day for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Edinburgh, in particular, has seen Covid numbers reach unprecedented levels in the past fortnight, with the weekly rate jumping to 582 per 100,000 people, shattering the previous high of 242 in January.
The Scottish government published figures on Thursday showing that there had been 4,234 positive cases over the preceding 24 hours. Six deaths of Covid patients were also registered.
The First Minister was accused yesterday by Ian Murray, Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary, of “trying to rewrite history”, as she changed tack on the advice given to Scottish football fans heading to London for the Euros.
Sturgeon this week claimed her administration had been very clear in warning fans who didn’t have tickets to Wembley not to travel. However, SNP ministers had in fact told people it was fine for them to go to London as long as they had somewhere “safe” to watch the game.
The First Minister also seems to have forgotten her briefing on the day of the game, when she praised the “vibrant” Tartan Army in London and noticeably didn’t condemn fans for breaking social distancing rules.
Having gone easy on the football crowds, perhaps she didn’t dare clamp down on the rest of the country. Whatever her reasons, many Scots will surely be pleased by her decision to put her money on the vaccine rather than extending Covid curbs. But if cases continue to soar, she may be faced with little choice.