Nicola Sturgeon says lockdown must continue in Scotland but people may be allowed out more than once per day to exercise

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the lockdown period in the country should be extended.

Ms Sturgeon said "extreme caution is required" in Scotland, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce a way out of lockdown on Sunday.

Lockdown announcements from Downing Street do not have to be adhered to in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as health is a devolved issue.

Additionally, Ms Sturgeon said that people returning to work and opening beer gardens would be inappropriate and potentially "catastrophic".

However, Ms Sturgeon said people may be allowed out of their homes more than once per day day to exercise, so long as current measures such as social distancing and not meeting up with others, are adhered to.

Speaking at her daily briefing from the Scottish Government’s headquarters in Edinburgh, she said: “Our assessment of the evidence leads me to the conclusion that the lockdown must be extended at this stage.”

With reports that Mr Johnson is set to announce some easing of restrictions, Ms Sturgeon insisted she would “not be pressurised” into lifting measures prematurely.

She explained she did not want to lift restrictions too early, and risk a potential second spike of coronavirus.

The Scottish First Minister said: “The decisions we take now are a matter of life and death and that is why they weigh so heavily.”

People could be permitted to leave the house more than once a day. Credit: PA

Speaking about why she believed the lockdown needed to be continued, Ms Sturgeon said while “really significant progress” was being made in curbing coronavirus, the situation “remains fragile”.

The First Minister said: “There are still significant numbers of people in Scotland infected with this virus and we’re not yet confident that the all-important R number is comfortably below one.”

The R number measures the number of people that each person with coronavirus infects with the disease, with Ms Sturgeon saying this “could still be hovering around one just now”.

And she added this “means that any significant easing up of restrictions at this stage would be very, very risky indeed”.

There are also suggestions the R number in Scotland could be a “bit higher” than other parts of the UK, she added, “perhaps reflecting the fact that our first cases came later than England so we might be at a different and slightly later stage of the infection”.

Mr Johnson will speak later on Thursday with the devolved administrations after reports lockdown measures will be eased next week, with Ms Sturgeon calling on all UK leaders to work together.

Ms Sturgeon said “media reports” over the easing of lockdown measures have not been discussed with the Scottish Government.

“I will not be pressured into lifting measures prematurely,” she said, adding that she strongly believes that to drop the “clear, well understood” stay at home message could be a “potentially catastrophic mistake”.

ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith says Ms Sturgeon will have to answer where the money would come from to extend the lockdown as the UK Treasury pay for the furlough scheme.

A spokesperson for Keir Starmer said: “This afternoon Keir Starmer and other opposition leaders were briefed over the phone by the Prime Minister about the coronavirus pandemic. The call was constructive.

“During the call, the Labour Leader stressed the importance of securing a national consensus on the next phase of the Government’s response to the coronavirus. He also reiterated the seven principles that he wants the Government to consider when planning for the next phase, including safety at work and preventing a cliff-edge to the job protection scheme.

“All sides agreed to further briefings over the weekend.”

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that a total of 1,762 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 59 from 1,703 on Wednesday.

The First Minister said 12,924 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 215 from 12,709 the day before.

There are 86 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, a decrease of three on yesterday, she added.

There are 1,587 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of 45.

Since March 5, 2,954 people who have tested positive for coronavirus have been able to leave hospital.

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