By Bill Heaney
Current lockdown measures will stay in place across mainland Scotland and some island communities until at least the middle of February, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, pictured right, confirmed today.
In addition, Barra and Vatersay will move into lockdown from 00:01 on Wednesday following a sharp increase in infection rates. The rest of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will remain in level 3.
Schools across Scotland will also continue to use remote learning until at least the middle of February except in the case of vulnerable children and those of key workers.
During an update to Parliament the First Minister said that although lockdown appears to be having an impact on case numbers, transmission of the virus remains too high to relax restrictions.
Nobody who lives in an area under lockdown should leave or remain outside their home except for an essential purpose like caring responsibilities, outdoor exercise and work that cannot be done from home.
These measures will be kept under consideration and Parliament will be updated following a review by the Cabinet on February 2.
Stay in the house – Sturgeon grateful to people across the country for their patience and resilience in the face of this extraordinary challenge. Picture by Sean Davenport
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Any relaxation of lockdown while case numbers remain high, even though they might be declining, could quickly send the situation into reverse.
“We believe that the lockdown restrictions – and the sacrifices everyone continues to make – are beginning to have an impact. However, it is important to be cautious.
“I continue to be very grateful to people across the country for their patience and resilience in the face of this extraordinary challenge.
“At the moment, lockdown is the best way of keeping each other safe, as vaccination continues. It is how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.”