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UK Covid live: Sturgeon sets out timetable for easing of restrictions up to April UK Covid live: Sturgeon sets out timetable for easing of restrictions up to April
(32 minutes later)
Scottish first minister says the information about the impact of the vaccination programme is ‘extremely encouraging’Scottish first minister says the information about the impact of the vaccination programme is ‘extremely encouraging’
The latest UK Covid figures have been published on the government’s dashboard.
Here are the key figures.
The UK has recorded 8,489 further cases - the lowest daily total for more than four months. This is the lowest daily total for new cases by date recorded since early October, and it is only the third day this year the total has been below 10,000. Week on week, new cases are down 11.8%.
The UK has recorded 548 further deaths. A week ago today the equivalent figure was 799. Week on week, deaths are down 28.4%.
There were 1,323 Covid admissions to UK hospitals on Thursday last week, the most recent day for which figures are available on the dashboard. That is the lowest daily total since late November. Week on week, admissions are down 20.7%.
192,341 people in the UK received their first dose of a vaccine yesterday. This confirms a trend that has been apparent for several days; the rate at which first doses are being administered is falling.
Rachel Clarke, the palliative care doctor and author, has described Matt Hancock’s claim this morning that there was never a national shortage of PPE last year (see 11.26am) as a “lie”.Rachel Clarke, the palliative care doctor and author, has described Matt Hancock’s claim this morning that there was never a national shortage of PPE last year (see 11.26am) as a “lie”.
PA Media has also pointed out in its news report that there is ample evidence to show that what Hancock said was wrong. PA says:PA Media has also pointed out in its news report that there is ample evidence to show that what Hancock said was wrong. PA says:
From Newsnight’s Lewis Goodall, on the differences between the Scottish and UK governments’ approaches to lockdown easingFrom Newsnight’s Lewis Goodall, on the differences between the Scottish and UK governments’ approaches to lockdown easing
Boris Johnson has described the threat climate change poses to global security as of “paramount importance”. Speaking at the start of a virtual United Nations security council session on climate change, he said:Boris Johnson has described the threat climate change poses to global security as of “paramount importance”. Speaking at the start of a virtual United Nations security council session on climate change, he said:
Johnson also introduced a video message from Sir David Attenborough, a man he described as having “devoted much of his life to chronicling the threats to all forms of life on our fragile blue planet”.Johnson also introduced a video message from Sir David Attenborough, a man he described as having “devoted much of his life to chronicling the threats to all forms of life on our fragile blue planet”.
Public Health Wales said a total of 869,653 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had now been given, an increase of 7,405 from the previous day, PA Media reports. PA says:Public Health Wales said a total of 869,653 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had now been given, an increase of 7,405 from the previous day, PA Media reports. PA says:
The Scottish parliament is redacting one of Alex Salmond’s submissions about “malicious” attempts by former colleagues to banish him from public life after legal warnings from the Crown Office, my colleagues Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks report.The Scottish parliament is redacting one of Alex Salmond’s submissions about “malicious” attempts by former colleagues to banish him from public life after legal warnings from the Crown Office, my colleagues Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks report.
Public Health Wales has recorded 317 further coronavirus cases and four further deaths.Public Health Wales has recorded 317 further coronavirus cases and four further deaths.
A week ago today the equivalent figures were 275 new cases and eight deaths.A week ago today the equivalent figures were 275 new cases and eight deaths.
More than 170,000 people have now signed a parliamentary epetition saying the government should not allow vaccine passports. It says:More than 170,000 people have now signed a parliamentary epetition saying the government should not allow vaccine passports. It says:
Epetitions that attract more than 100,000 names are considered for debate by MPs.Epetitions that attract more than 100,000 names are considered for debate by MPs.
In the Scottish parliament Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, was asked by Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, and Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green co-leader, about “vaccine passports”. Although they both raised similar concerns, she sounded mildly more supportive of the principle than Boris Johnson did when he spoke about them earlier. (See 1.11pm.)In the Scottish parliament Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, was asked by Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, and Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green co-leader, about “vaccine passports”. Although they both raised similar concerns, she sounded mildly more supportive of the principle than Boris Johnson did when he spoke about them earlier. (See 1.11pm.)
Replying to Rennie, who said he was worried that support for “vaccine passports” was “gaining traction”, Sturgeon said she would not support their use for access to public services. But she went on to say that people should not close their minds to the idea completely.Replying to Rennie, who said he was worried that support for “vaccine passports” was “gaining traction”, Sturgeon said she would not support their use for access to public services. But she went on to say that people should not close their minds to the idea completely.
And when Harvie suggested that “vaccine passports” could make social inequality “even worse”, and make people’s civil rights dependent on their medical history, Sturgeon said she would “never support something that deepened social inequalities, or put barriers in the way of people accessing public services”. But she said these questions illustrated why a debate was needed. She added:And when Harvie suggested that “vaccine passports” could make social inequality “even worse”, and make people’s civil rights dependent on their medical history, Sturgeon said she would “never support something that deepened social inequalities, or put barriers in the way of people accessing public services”. But she said these questions illustrated why a debate was needed. She added:
Here is the Scottish government’s 93-page Covid strategic framework update (pdf).Here is the Scottish government’s 93-page Covid strategic framework update (pdf).
This chart, from the Scottish government’s Covid “strategic framework update” (pdf), summarises the plans announced by Nicola Sturgeon.This chart, from the Scottish government’s Covid “strategic framework update” (pdf), summarises the plans announced by Nicola Sturgeon.
Turning to what will happen between now and April, Sturgeon says the first step came with the partial reopening of schools yesterday.Turning to what will happen between now and April, Sturgeon says the first step came with the partial reopening of schools yesterday.
Restrictions on care home visiting will start to ease from early March, she says.Restrictions on care home visiting will start to ease from early March, she says.
The next phase of easing could start from 15 March, she says.The next phase of easing could start from 15 March, she says.
She says that will involve the next phase of school return – with the rest of primary school years going back, and getting more senior secondary school pupils into class for at least some of the time. She says non-contact outdoors sport should be allowed then for 12- to 17-year-olds. And the limit on outdoor mixing will be relaxed, so that four people from two households can meet - not just two people from two households, as now.She says that will involve the next phase of school return – with the rest of primary school years going back, and getting more senior secondary school pupils into class for at least some of the time. She says non-contact outdoors sport should be allowed then for 12- to 17-year-olds. And the limit on outdoor mixing will be relaxed, so that four people from two households can meet - not just two people from two households, as now.
Sturgeon says the next phase could start from 5 April.Sturgeon says the next phase could start from 5 April.
In this phase the rest of pupils could go back, she says. She says communal worship could be allowed to start. And the rules on outdoor mixing could be further relaxed, so that six people from two households can meet.In this phase the rest of pupils could go back, she says. She says communal worship could be allowed to start. And the rules on outdoor mixing could be further relaxed, so that six people from two households can meet.
And retail will start to open up in this phase she says, with the extension of essential retail being expanded, and the restrictions on click and collect being lifted.And retail will start to open up in this phase she says, with the extension of essential retail being expanded, and the restrictions on click and collect being lifted.
Sturgeon says the next phase could start from 26 April, when hopefully all of Scotland might move to level 3 restrictions, although possibly with some changes.Sturgeon says the next phase could start from 26 April, when hopefully all of Scotland might move to level 3 restrictions, although possibly with some changes.
But this is provisional, she stresses.But this is provisional, she stresses.
Sturgeon says today’s report will be followed by a document in mid-March giving more detail of lockdown easing.Sturgeon says today’s report will be followed by a document in mid-March giving more detail of lockdown easing.
She also says that, although she is setting out plans today, “in the coming weeks, if the data allows and positive trends continue, we will seek to accelerate the easing of restrictions”.She also says that, although she is setting out plans today, “in the coming weeks, if the data allows and positive trends continue, we will seek to accelerate the easing of restrictions”.
She says Scotland will return to the level system from the last week of April.She says Scotland will return to the level system from the last week of April.
From the last week of April there will be a “phased but significant re-opening of the economy, including non essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers”, she says.From the last week of April there will be a “phased but significant re-opening of the economy, including non essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers”, she says.
Sturgeon says there are some signs that the decline in case numbers is slowing down.Sturgeon says there are some signs that the decline in case numbers is slowing down.
And R, the reproduction number, is not far below 1. That means “we have quite limited scope at this stage for easing restrictions”, she says.And R, the reproduction number, is not far below 1. That means “we have quite limited scope at this stage for easing restrictions”, she says.
Sturgeon says the information about the impact of the vaccination programme is “extremely encouraging”.Sturgeon says the information about the impact of the vaccination programme is “extremely encouraging”.
But she says the government still has to proceed cautiously.But she says the government still has to proceed cautiously.
Sturgeon says almost a third of Scottish adults have now received their first dose of vaccine.Sturgeon says almost a third of Scottish adults have now received their first dose of vaccine.
She says the government expects to have offered a first dose to everyone on the JCVI’s priority list - all over-50s, and people with underlying health conditions - by mid-April.She says the government expects to have offered a first dose to everyone on the JCVI’s priority list - all over-50s, and people with underlying health conditions - by mid-April.
And she says she expects to offer a first dose to every adult in Scotland by the end of July - not by September, as originally planned.And she says she expects to offer a first dose to every adult in Scotland by the end of July - not by September, as originally planned.