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Scottish Deputy First Minister on Scotland's latest lockdown restrictions

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP has spoken about the latest lockdown restrictions in Scotland.

Joining Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain, Mr Swinney said scientific advisors told the Scottish government that "if the virus continues to spread at the rate that it is currently spreading at, by the end of October we’ll be back to the levels of infection we had in March."

He added that the government "can’t allow that to happen" and therefore they have to "take action to stem the spread of the virus."

Referring to the latest restrictions Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has put in place on pubs and cafes across Scotland, Mr Swinney said: "I understand entirely the concerns of the hospitality sector and we’re obviously taking time to discuss the practical implications of the decisions that we had to take yesterday to tackle the spread of Coronavirus."  

On only a small proportionate of infection rates being traced back to the hospitality industry, John added: "We published an evidence paper yesterday, which went through a lot of the detail which is designed to support the discussion and debate around these issues because I accept that there are different opinions about what is the best way to tackle the virus.

"What that demonstrated was that in contact tracing information, the material that’s fed to contact tracing that works out where positive cases may have been picked up, it shows that the two principal difficulty areas are households, which is why we’ve brought in a restriction on people being able to visit other peoples’ houses - we did that two weeks ago - and in hospitality…What we’re having to tackle is social interaction…that is how the virus is spreading and we’re having to find ways to try to get people to have just a bit less contact with others and to observe others and physical distance."

 He continued: "I recognise that the hospitality industry has worked very hard to try to ensure the maximum effect is had on the virus, but we’re still seeing the virus rise. What we’ve taken is what I think is a proportionate set of decisions... We’re also putting in place financial assistance for the hospitality sector to try to help them through this difficult period."

Pushed on whether the hospitality industry should be shut until a vaccine is found, John explained: "What the First Minister said yesterday was about how we are essentially having to learn to live with the virus because the virus is not going to disappear overnight. It’s going to be there and we’ve got to find ways of ensuring that we suppress the virus as effectively as we possibly can. We have selected some measures over a two-week period to try and do that, very clearly with the intent that those restrictions will be removed in two weeks time."

"In the evidence paper we supplied yesterday we showed a very significant spread of the virus amongst the older age group, people over 40…That’s happening at really quite a significant level, in some age groups doubling within a week. Now that will significantly increase the vulnerability of the population, it will have much more negative harms on individuals and the government has decided that we cannot just be passive while that is happening, we’ve got to act to stem the virus," he added.

During the interview, Mr Swinney was asked about the resignation of SNP's Margaret Ferrier.

He said: "That’s a decision that only Margaret Ferrier can take...Her conduct was completely and utterly indefensible, but we can’t require her to stand down as a member of parliament. Her local SNP constituency association has asked her to do that. The First Minister has asked her to do that and it’s an issue that Margaret Ferrier has to resolve."

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