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01 October 2020
Scottish Government is considering tight lockdown over school holidays, Jason Leitch says

David Anderson/Holyrood

Scottish Government is considering tight lockdown over school holidays, Jason Leitch says

National Clinical Director Jason Leitch has said the Scottish Government is considering a kind of ‘stay at home order’ over the October school holidays. 

Reports have emerged in recent weeks of plans for a so-called ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, where much tighter restrictions are brought in for a short period of time in order to slow the spread of coronavirus across the country. 

Leitch told BBC Good Morning Scotland on Thursday that it is “one of the things we would consider”. 

The comments come as recorded cases of COVID-19 in Scotland reached their highest levels ever and seven new deaths linked to the virus were announced on Wednesday. 

Ministers including deputy first minister John Swinney have said the government is looking closely at the merits of a short-term lockdown. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and others in the Scottish Government have repeatedly said that the priority is for school to remain open as much as possible, prompting speculation that any lockdown could come during the October school break. 

Leitch told the BBC on Thursday morning that this was something the government was considering.

He said: “That would be one of the things that we would consider because there's already changes during that period for schools. 

“So until you would be able to in an easier way include schools. 

“The challenge of course is that circuit breaker or fire breaker as advertised, and as thought about in the literature so far, includes a pretty strict travel restriction and closure of some businesses.”

Leitch said that the government is “reluctant” to add any more disruptive restrictions unless the benefit of such measures was clear. 

He said that such a short, strict lockdown would be of more benefit if it were able to drive the rate at the virus spreads to a standstill or in reverse. 

However, Leitch said it was not clear that this would happen in Scotland as the reproduction rate may already be too high. 

Leitch said: “The other problem is the science seems to suggest that works best if your R is only just above one because it gives you a little boost to get it below one...we're worried we're a little bit higher than that.

“So that needs a little bit of modelling and a little bit of work because there’s less point in going from 1.7 to 1.5 as there would be from going from 1.1 to 0.8, for instance. You could see why that would be more advantageous.”

On Wednesday the First Minister announced 640 new positive test results were reported, with 137 people being treated in hospital.

The number of people to have died in Scotland within 28 days of testing positive now stands at 2,519.

But the National Records of Scotland says the virus has been mentioned on 4,257 death certificates.

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