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Sturgeon urges students not to visit pubs this weekend to curb university outbreaks

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The first minister said she was “sorry” for students in halls as she advised them not to visit pubs or other households this weekend.

A total of 558 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland in the past 24 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said – a new daily record.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, she said 26,518 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 25,960 the day before.

This is 9.5% of newly-tested individuals, up from 7.9% the previous day.

Of the new cases, 255 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 61 in Lanarkshire and 119 in Lothian.

No deaths of confirmed Covid-19 patients have been recorded in the past 24 hours and the number of fatalities remains at 2,510.

Students urged not to visit households or pubs

Ms Sturgeon said she was “so heart sorry” for those in student accommodation. She assured students they were not to blame for the spread of the virus.

University students have been asked to avoid hospitality businesses at the weekend by the Scottish Government and Universities Scotland.

She added: “I am so sorry, so heart sorry, that this time of your lives is being made as tough as it is just now – I really feel for you, but I feel especially for those of you starting university for the first time and, of course, living alone for the first time.

“This is an exciting time in your lives but I remember from my own experience that it’s also a time of adjustment and it’s also a time of homesickness as well, and that’s the case for students every year without Covid-19 but it is much more difficult given the circumstances you are all facing right now.”

The first minister urged students not to visit other households and asked them not to go to bars and restaurants over the September weekend. She also appealed to them to download the Protect Scotland app.

Can students return home to self-isolate?

The Scottish Government is assessing if students are allowed to leave their accommodation to return to their family homes.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m going to be frank, that’s a difficult balancing act, because if you go home after you’ve been asked to self-isolate that may have implications for your family, who then also may be asked to self-isolate if you test positive.

“I wanted to let you know that we are looking at what might be possible there and it is our aim to issue some further guidance on that over the weekend.”

Institutions have a “big, big responsibility” to look out for student welfare and mental health, she said.

Ms Sturgeon added: “I’ve spoken personally this morning to university principals to stress their responsibilities to you and I know it is something they take seriously, but I also know that it’s something that parents will want to be assured of.

“Student services already have special arrangements in place including 24-hour helplines, support for food deliveries and additional mental health counsellors for those who might need that support.”

The first minister also thanked students for their compliance, adding: “You’re bearing a burden that I desperately wish you didn’t have to be bearing right now, but you’re playing your collective part in beating Covid-19 back.

“For that, you have my thanks and deep appreciation, and also understanding, of how difficult this is for you at this time.”

Increasing police presence

Police Scotland’s chief constable has said extra officers will be on the streets to ensure the hospitality curfew is complied with.

New measures, including instructions for bars and restaurants to close at 10pm, came into force on Friday in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus in Scotland.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Additional officers will be deployed across Scotland to support colleagues from local authorities and to monitor compliance.

“I think it’s important for me to say that the vast majority of licensees have acted with great responsibility during this very challenging period – I pay credit to them and undertake that policing will continue to support and work with the licensed trade.”

He said that officers would “continue to use good sense” when enforcing the new rules but warned they would “act decisively” in the face of “blatant, wilful, persistent breaches”.

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