A secret Scottish Government document has revealed ministers are considering extensive Covid restrictions including local lockdowns during the October school holidays, travel restrictions and pub closures.
The paper, marked Official Sensitive, discussed a so-called “circuit break”, which would result in the reintroduction of many of the constraining measures that were in force when at the beginning of the outbreak six months ago.
Published on twitter and the Guido Fawkes website, the document included consideration of a “stay at home” message with people going outside only for essentials and outdoor exercise.
This has been shared privately with me (thanks!).
ScotGov options for “circuit breaker”. pic.twitter.com/9RqXiBE2mZ
— CovidSenseBloke (@CovidSenseBloke) September 20, 2020
It laid out circuit break options of a “fixed standardised two-week period across Scotland” or a “rolling circuit break” to coincide with October half term dates across the country.
The idea of a rolling circuit break suggests local lockdowns being enforced in areas when their schools go on holiday.
Suggestions for measures that could be taken during the break included universities and colleges confined to remote learning, hospitality sector closure and travel restricted to a minimum of five or 30 miles.
Other restrictions considered by the document include closure of indoor entertainment like cinemas, bingo and casinos, closing visitor attractions and avoiding public transport.
Ms Sturgeon did not deny that it was genuine when asked about it at her daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh and added ministers were looking at a range of options.
The first minister said: “I’m not going to comment on leaked documents, whether they’re genuine or not. What I would say is that any responsible government right now will be looking at a whole range of different options – I know the Scottish Government is.
“We haven’t reached final decisions yet, so anyone that’s looking at any documents and drawing a conclusion that these are definitely going to happen is wrong. But, yes, we are looking at a wide range of options.”
This is a dark moment for the country. People have made huge sacrifices to stop the virus and are now facing the prospect of tough lockdown measures once again. A second wave has been a known risk for a long time.”
Willie Rennie, Scottish Lib Dem leader
A Scottish Government spokesman added: “We do not comment on leaked documents. As the First Minister said today, we are looking at a wide range of options. No final decisions have been made.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “This is a dark moment for the country. People have made huge sacrifices to stop the virus and are now facing the prospect of tough lockdown measures once again.
“A second wave has been a known risk for a long time. Now with the number of cases rising, this will be the real test of whether the government has used the last six months to build capacity in the health service and ensure that our test-and-trace and quarantine systems are up to scratch.”
Measures discussed in the leaked document
- Schools closed (i.e. for half term).
- FE/HE remote learning only.
- Hospitality closed (except essential residential).
- General message to stay at home as much as possible (e.g. leaving for essentials and outdoor exercise only).
- Travel restriction (e.g. five/30 miles) for all but essential travel (NB: this would effectively shut down the domestic travel sector).
- Close entertainment venues: bingo, cinema, snooker, casinos, amusement arcades, funfairs.
- No visitor attractions (consistent with five-mile rule etc).
- No indoor (group) physical activity (age options).
- No unregulated children’s activities.
- No contact sports (any age or 12-plus).
- No indoor live events and only low-risk outdoor live events.
- No spectators in stadia.
- Avoid using public transport where possible message.
- Restrictions on care home and hospital visiting.
- No personal retail services (hairdressers, beauticians, driving lessons etc).
- Places of worship for private worship and reflection only.