SNP deputy shamed on ‘inconsistent’ vaccine message ‘said we’re leading Europe!’

John Swinney defends need for continued coronavirus lockdown

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Nicola Sturgeon said levels of uptake of the vaccine had so far been “significantly beyond” the target of 80 percent set out in the deployment plan. But when John Swinney was asked when lockdown restrictions will lift in Scotland, he said it is unlikely there will be any easing before summer. Speaking to BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Mr Swinney said: “I can’t foresee what the situation will be like in the summertime but I think in the immediate period and in the run-up to Easter there will still be significant restrictions in place for people in Scotland.”

BBC presenter Laura Goodwin interjected: “But why? The First Minister said three times on Tuesday how well our vaccination process is going, that we are leading Europe in terms of getting people vaccinated.

“It seems inconsistent that we would still have to have such tight restrictions. Why is that?”

Mr Swinney continued: “We don’t want to leave the population at risk of there being a third wave of Covid, nobody would forgive us for that.

“We’ve got to make decisions based on that public health advice that is available to us.

“Yes, the prevalence of the virus is reducing, there has been massive progress with the vaccination programme courtesy of the committed professionals across the country.

“But we still face very significant threats in the virus and the new variant spreads in a much more prolific fashion than the original version of the virus and it can lead to more significant challenges in reducing the cases.

“We have got to maintain a significant focus on suppressing the virus, that will enable us to return more young people and children to school at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The NHS is likely to remain “at full stretch” for at least another six weeks, a leading health official said as he warned the Prime Minister against easing lockdown too quickly.

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Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, has written to Boris Johnson calling for a focus on “data, not just dates” when it comes to the Government’s approach to the route out of lockdown.

The Prime Minister will scrutinise data this week on coronavirus case numbers, hospital admissions, deaths and the impact of the vaccine rollout as he prepares his plan to reduce restrictions.

Mr Johnson has said he will aim to give target dates for restrictions being eased when he sets out his plan next Monday, but “won’t hesitate” to delay plans if infection rates make it necessary.


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In a possible indication of what Mr Johnson could announce next week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out a phased return for schools in Scotland.

Primary school children between the ages of four and eight will be back in their classrooms from Monday, along with some senior students needing to do practical work for qualifications – but Ms Sturgeon stressed it was “unlikely” any more youngsters would go back before March 15.

The SNP leader was also cautious about holidays, telling people the Government was “likely to advise against booking Easter holidays” either overseas or within Scotland, as it was “highly unlikely” that hotels and self-catering accommodation will have been able to open by then.

For the summer, she said holidays in Scotland “might be” possible – although foreign travel was still “highly unlikely” to be permitted.

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