Nicola Sturgeon: Student restrictions on pubs were a 'request' not a ban

Nicola Sturgeon said she agreed with Universities Scotland’s assertion that the restrictions on students to go to pubs, bars and restaurants was a “request”, not a ban.

Nicola Sturgeon said the restrictions were "advice" and a "request", not a ban.
Nicola Sturgeon said the restrictions were "advice" and a "request", not a ban.

The First Minister added that guidance produced by Bristol University and referenced by Mark Woolhouse as showing a rise in cases due to students was “entirely predicatable” had been used by the Scottish Government.

She said the recommended actions from the modelling, which higher education minister Richard Lochhead said this morning he had not seen, had been taken into account and implemented in the Scottish Government’s guidance around students and universities.

The comments, at her daily coronavirus briefing, came after the representative body for Scottish Universities issued an ‘explanation’ of the measures imposed on students in Scotland over the weekend.

Students had been told, along with the rest of Scotland, to not mix households, but were given additional restrictions such as not being allowed to socialise in pubs, bars and restaurants over the weekend.

In the initial release of the restrictions, Universities Scotland said they would employ a yellow and red card disciplinary process, including potential expulsion from University, if students were found to have breached the rules.

Ms Sturgeon, aligning herself with the statement from director of Universities Scotland Alastair Sim on Sunday, said the measures were a “request” and “advice”.

She said: “Parts of that guidance that said if you were in a halls of residence or student accommodation and were in a household, then your socialising has to be within that household in you accommodation, that reflects the legal position that applies to all of us.

"That bit is firm because that reflects the law, the other aspect which I think was the second bullet point of what they put out last week of not going to the pub over the weekend, that was advice and a request on behalf of students.

"It was believed and is still believed that that was important to try and stem any onward transmission of cases and as I say all of the evidence is that students have complied with that.

"I don’t underestimate how tough it is when you are at university, particularly when you have started university to be told not to go to the pub, but we are in a global pandemic right now and everybody has had to do really difficult things.”

In response to questions about whether she had seen the modelling undertaken by the UK Government’s scientific advisers around students, the First Minister accused journalists of attempting to devise a “got you” question.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am aware of the Bristol University work at the time, the mitigations which were suggested out of that modelling, the key point I am making, they were taken account of in the guidance that was published by the Scottish Government a few weeks ago.

"We don’t ignore these things, we see lots of pieces of scientific modelling and advice, some of them to be perfectly blunt are contradictory so we have to take account of all of these.

"We have our own scientific advisers that we come to balanced judgements but the mitigations that were suggested as a result of that work were taken account of in the guidance that we published.”

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