Scots told to stick to new lockdown rules ahead of Easter weekend as country faces 'precarious' position
Scots have been told to stick to the new Covid-19 restrictions this Easter weekend amid warnings of rising cases in Europe and the spread of new variants of the virus.
The ‘Stay at Home’ order will be lifted from Friday, becoming instead a ‘Stay Local’ rule, as Scotland recorded its lowest Covid-19 test positivity rate this year on Thursday, at 1.8 per cent.
But Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith warned the public not to become “complacent” and to stick to the new rules, as the country faces a “precarious” position.
“Despite the improving situation, these figures are a sobering reminder of the devastation and grief that this virus continues to cause,” he told a media briefing on Thursday.
"There remains no room for complacency at all, and continuing to abide by the rules remains the best way to look after and protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
The Easter weekend coinciding with an easing of restrictions presents a “huge temptation”, he said but it also brings a “real risk to all the good progress that we've made over the last few months”.
Dr Smith warned people in particular not to meet others indoors, and to instead meet outside, in small groups, and at an appropriate distance.
Under the Stay Local rule, Scots must stay in their local authority, unless needing to travel for an essential purpose, and can meet with one other household outdoors, with a maximum group size of four adults.
"We can see by looking at both Europe and other parts of the world just how fragile our own position is, so it remains imperative that we abide by the rules, we stay local and we look after each other," Dr Smith said.
“Hundreds of people in Scotland every day are still getting this virus. It remains very infectious, and it remains dangerous, so we still face significant risks, and it's vital that we all continue to bear that in mind and act cautiously and carefully."
Dr Smith said he would describe the current situation in Scotland as “precarious”.
"You only have to look at the examples of a number of different continental European countries just now just to see that actually things can turn very, very, quickly,” he said.
"We've got the advantage of being a little bit more advanced in our vaccination programme just now, but Chile also had that experience of being fairly advanced with their vaccination programme, and yet they are still continuing to see rising numbers of cases across the country.”
Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, added that Scotland should take warning from countries in Europe which are seeing new lockdowns, such as France.
"It shouldn't scare us, but it should warn us that this virus is still around, hasn't gone anywhere, and continues to be a challenge,” he said.
"It doesn't take much for the virus to accelerate out of control.”
French President Emmanuel Macron announced a third national lockdown for the country on Wednesday.
Schools will close from Saturday and there will be a ban on travelling more than 10km from home without good reason.
It comes as the country faces a peak of more than 5,000 patients in intensive care.