Covid-19: Scotland deserves scientific explanation for new lockdown measures, Ruth Davidson says

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called on Nicola Sturgeon to share the scientific advice which led her to impose new coronavirus restrictions in Scotland.

Pubs and other hospitality venues will be shut for 16 days from Friday in central Scotland, while areas with lower Covid-19 rates face a 6pm curfew as the first minister tries to introduce measures to reduce the rate of infection.

The new measures have been met with a raft of opposition from business leaders, who say it will have a crippling effect on the economy and jobs.

Speaking on Peston, Ms Davidson stopped short of criticising the new measures, but said ordinary Scots needed to be "trusted" with understanding the rationale behind their introduction.

"This isn't just about what the science is telling governments. It's also the political decisions they make when they see that science," Ms Davidson said.

"As a member of the opposition, we do not get to see and we do not get to hear the advice that is being given to Nicola Sturgeon, nor do we get to see or hear the options that are put before her."

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

She added: "What we've seen today is big, it is a big intervention. The areas which are most affected, where all pubs are being shut, where all licensed premises are being shut, where you're not allowed to play football or bingo, or allowed in anyone's house, that's more than half the country in population size.

"What we don't know is what advice she was given and what all the different options were.

"What is very clear is over the course of this, for several months, there has been a general acceptance in Scotland that these public health measures just need to be followed, and there's been a really good uptake of that.

"I think we're getting to the point now in Scotland where they're looking for more justification. They're looking to be trusted with what the rationale is for things that seemingly don't make sense or are contradictory."

What are the new measures to be introduced?

  • Pubs and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors for 16 days from 6pm on Friday. Establishments will, however, be allowed to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks inside from 6am to 6pm.

  • All licensed premises in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas (the central belt) will be closed for both indoor and outdoor operations.

  • Restaurants within hotels will be able to serve people after these hours, but without alcohol.

  • Pubs and restaurants will still be able to serve people outside, subject to the rules which are currently in place.

  • People in the five areas with tighter restrictions have been told to avoid public transport wherever possible.

  • In the central belt snooker and pool halls, bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will have to shut for a fortnight.

  • Outdoor live events will be banned in the five areas for the next two weeks.

Nicola Sturgeon presented the new measures before Holyrood earlier on Wednesday, saying they were "temporary" and that "without them, there is a risk the virus will be out of control by the end of this month".

She added: “The R number seems to have risen above 1 approximately three weeks after the hospitality sector opened up.

“We know that more than one fifth of people contacted by test and trace, report having visited a hospitality setting.”

She added: “All of these reasons, significantly restricting licensed premises for 16 days temporarily removes one of the key opportunities the virus has to jump from household to household.

“It is an essential part of our efforts to get the R number significantly below 1.”

Scotland recorded 1,054 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, according to figures published shortly before Ms Sturgeon’s parliamentary statement.

The record high figure was published by the Scottish Government from Health Protection Scotland data.

  • ITV's Peston show airs on Wednesdays at 10.45pm.