Covid circuit breaker: What is a circuit breaker in Covid terms?

A senior figure in the NHS has called for a circuit breaker in Scotland before Christmas – but what does this mean in practice?

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 7:44 am

According to Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, there is “no time to lose”, as Covid cases continue to rise quickly.

Ms Evans expressed fears that it wouldn’t take long for the NHS to move from coping to overwhelmed with cases rising exponentially.

Ms Evans went on to call for a circuit breaker lockdown in order to “buy time” for the booster jab rollout to take effect.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she doesn't intend to introduce new rules before Christmas. Photo: Andrew Milligan.

Scotland has undergone circuit breaker lockdowns in the past – but what does the term actually mean, and how is it different to other lockdowns?

Here’s all you need to know about circuit breakers and whether we’re likely to see one in Scotland before Christmas.

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What is a circuit breaker in Covid terms?

The key element of a circuit breaker is that it’s for a short amount of time, often a span of two weeks.

The idea is that a short lockdown helps to reduce the spike in infections and ease pressure on essential services like the NHS.

If a circuit breaker did come into force, it would likely include measures similar to early periods of easing restrictions, including banning indoor mixing and limiting hospitality to outdoor services.

However, there is no one definition of what measures might be included in a circuit breaker.

These measures will be decided based on data from where infections are most common.

Is a circuit breaker likely in Scotland before Christmas?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the advice and restrictions she laid out last week would carry the country through until Christmas, meaning that there are no plans for a circuit breaker at this time.

“The Cabinet will discuss tomorrow and I will set out in Parliament if there are any additional or wider steps necessary, but I want to be clear to individuals that the advice I gave out last week is the advice that will take us through Christmas,” Ms Sturgeon said in a statement last night.

It’s therefore unlikely that we will see a circuit breaker in Scotland before Christmas.