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Christmas will not be ‘absolutely normal’ this year, Nicola Sturgeon says

Christmas tree baubles - Image credit: Sergé via Flickr

Christmas will not be ‘absolutely normal’ this year, Nicola Sturgeon says

Christmas this year will not be “absolutely normal” and without restrictions, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Her comments at the daily briefing come after the Scottish Government’s national clinical director Jason Leitch warned on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that people should be prepared to have a “digital Christmas” this year.

Leitch said it was too early to say what would happen at Christmas and he was still thinking about Halloween and Bonfire Night.

But he added: “I’m hopeful costs now may get us a more family Christmas. But Christmas is not going to be normal, there’s absolutely no question about that.

“We’re not going to be in large family groupings with multiple families coming round. That is fiction for this year.

“But I’m hopeful that if we can get numbers down to a certain level, we may be able to get some form of normality. But people should get their digital Christmas ready.”

The First Minister supported Leitch’s comments, saying he was trying to be frank with people.

But she said that the restrictions that are in place now are in part about trying to achieve a greater level of normality by Christmas.

Sturgeon said: “This is really tough stuff and I’ve seen Jason Leitch’s comments this morning and I’ve seen the totality of his comments and what he’s trying to do is be frank with people about the reality we live in and not prematurely rule things out, but equally not try to give people false assurance and that’s the really difficult balance we’re trying to strike right now.

“I want to be able to celebrate Christmas as normally as it is possible to do within the context of a global pandemic and my message to people is that the more we all stick with these really difficult restrictions right now, the more chance there will be of us doing that.

“And some of the really tough additional things that government is deciding right now, restrictions on hospitality, for example, and any other restrictions we feel necessary to put in place, will also be in part about trying to deal decisively with an upsurge in the virus now so that we give ourselves the best chance of greater normality at Christmas. And that’s part of the objective that we’re all working to right now.

“But Christmas this year probably for no country anywhere is going to be absolutely normal without any restrictions.

“And I could do what politicians probably do in normal times, I could stand here and try to tell you otherwise and think, well, I’ll let people down nearer the time. That’s not the right approach right now.

“So, we are unlikely to be able to celebrate Christmas with no limits on the people in our houses and no limits to what we do, but the more we get this virus under control right now, the greater normality, the greater chance of having some ability to interact with our loved ones we will have.

“And I know people want me stand here right now and just say definitively, ‘Here’s what the rules will be on Christmas Day’.

“If I was forced to do that right now, if Christmas Day was tomorrow, it would be a pretty harsh thing I would have to say to people.

“But Christmas Day is not tomorrow, so let’s try and work as hard as we can now so that we do get greater normality, even if it is not 100 per cent normality.”

Her comments were backed by the chief nursing officer, Fiona McQueen.

McQueen said: “Christmas is some time away, albeit we are encouraging people to, if they possibly can, Christmas shop early so that they can reduce the crowding within shops because the two metre distance is so incredibly important, but there are a number of the 14-day cycles to go.”

She encouraged people to stick to the rules, adding: “This is a virus that relies on us to churn and let it grow, so in a way it’s in our hands, if we can pull back, restrict the social interactions that we have according to the rules according to where we’re staying, then we will get back to a more even keel and a more even balance within our society”.

The discussion comes as there were 1,712 new positive cases of COVID-19 recorded yesterday, which was 19.8 per cent of people tested.

Of the cases, 584 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 457 in Lanarkshire, 192 in Lothian and 151 in Ayrshire and Arran, with the remaining cases spread across nine other health boards, with no new cases reported in the Western Isles.

This brings the total number of cases 52,615, with 928 people in hospital, an increase of 55 on the day before, 74 in intensive care, one more than yesterday, and there were 17 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus.

An announcement of the current R number, the rate at which the infection is being passed on, will be published later today, but Sturgeon said it was above one and could be as high as 1.5, meaning every ten people with the virus will infect 15 others.

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