John Swinney has said that there “could” be more Covid rules in place before Christmas.
Less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on Scots to reduce socialization and set guidelines for retailers and the hospitality sector, his deputy admitted there could be more restrictions to come .
It comes as there are growing concerns about the growing number of Omicron cases, which appear to be spreading very quickly among groups.
Although Ms Sturgeon stressed yesterday that she is not canceling Christmas, she urged people to reduce the number of households they interact with before and after to help break ‘chains of transmission’.
Today Mr Swinney – who is Deputy Prime Minister and Covid Response Secretary – said he hoped people would follow the advice in a “spirit of cooperation”.
Will there be more restrictions?
New restrictions put in place by December 25 have not been ruled out by the government.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Swinney said: ‘It might be, but we obviously want to avoid that.
“We hope that we have done enough in the announcements that were made yesterday and we hope that members of the public and businesses will work with us in a spirit of cooperation to ensure that we can move these arrangements forward.
“I’m optimistic it does, but obviously for a virus that was 2% of our cases about 10 days ago but now accounts for over 27% of our cases, we have a variant that is very potent, is is developing at an alarming rate and we are facing a very serious situation.
“What we’re trying to do is protect the time that people are looking forward to, to have a Christmas as normal as possible, but we need people to work with us in the spirit of caution to make sure that we cross it.
Urging Scots to follow the new guidelines
Mr Swinney echoed the directives issued by the Prime Minister in a radio interview.
“What we’re trying to do is take a proportionate approach across a whole range of different areas of social interaction,” he said.
“The purpose of the directions we set out yesterday is to encourage people to reduce their social interactions, we know that large groups of mixed households can be immediate sources of the spread of the coronavirus.
“What we are trying to tell people is to reduce, where possible, their social interactions on either side of the formal Christmas time so that we can all enjoy this Christmas time with those we love. . “
Current limitations will be reviewed at least every three weeks, but Omicron data is monitored multiple times a day by government and health officials.
The Deputy Prime Minister added that he expects the current arrangements to apply to Hogmanay and extend into the new year.
“Temper your social interactions”
Over the past few months, big events and social gatherings have gradually become part of everyday life again.
Although Mr Swinney said people should not cancel outings, such as at the theater, he urged people to take a lateral flow test before attending and to make sure they are vaccinated at ” highest level possible “.
Asked about the limits on family gatherings but not larger events, he said households can be a “crowded environment”.
He continued, “Obviously there are other events that are going to happen. Whether it’s panto, movie theater or big sporting events, we try to find a balance between family interactions and some. larger events that people would expect to attend over the coming period.
“We are trying to give people advice that will help a collective effort to suppress the spread of the virus. A very contagious virus which is spreading at a very alarming rate. What we try to tell people is ‘keep the balance’.
“People don’t go to pantomime every night. They go there once during Christmas time and people will be looking forward to it.
“We say to go ahead with this safely, but then try to temper the number of social interactions you have with other households on other occasions.”