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Could a circuit-breaker help slow the spread of coronavirus in Scotland? Here’s what to expect if restrictions are tightened

Tougher restrictions could be on the way for Scotland as the nation awaits the outcome of a series of key government meetings.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hinted strongly during yesterday’s coronavirus briefing that stricter measures could be on the way after saying that we are facing “a rising tide of infection across the country”.

Meetings with key advisers, cabinet ministers and senior figures in the UK government will determine whether a so-called “circuit breaker” could be introduced.

Speaking at yesterday’s briefing, Ms Sturgeon said she was hopeful the restriction on visiting other people’s houses will “help us stem the increase of the virus over the next period”.

However, she warned: “Given the numbers we are seeing it is possible that we will have to do more.

Nicola Sturgeon speaking at the briefing yesterday.

“There may well be a need for some further restrictions in the near future.

“The government will be considering the latest clinical evidence and advice later on today and the cabinet will be considering the up-to-date situation when it meets tomorrow morning.”

What is a ‘circuit breaker’?

It is a series of much tougher restrictions put in place over a short period of time aimed at slowing down the spread of the virus.

Interventions could include the closure of schools, cinemas and pubs.

It could also result in a return to banning all but essential travel.

Fears over a full second lockdown have been growing in Scotland since the number of infections began to rise sharply last month.

Professor Jason Leitch.

Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch has appeared on television and radio recently suggesting that a circuit breaker is one of the scenarios being considered to combat the spread of Covid-19.

This would target areas with local outbreaks and high infection rates, but without implementing a full national lockdown.

Professor Leitch believes that two weeks of heightened restrictions could push the course of the pandemic back by 28 days and “buy time” before winter.

Will there be regional restrictions?

Whether this would be applied regionally or nationally remains to be seen.

Ms Sturgeon was asked yesterday about the possibility of regional restrictions but seemed to suggest nationwide ones could still be on the cards as “it would be wrong to suggest we are not seeing rises in pretty much every part of the country”.

Interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith added: “It’s really important we aren’t focusing too much on just one area.

Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith.

“It’s easy to be drawn to central belt areas, but if we do that we might miss signs we are seeing across the country.

“What we’re seeing is a gradual rise in cases in a number of areas.”

When will this happen?

If a circuit breaker is the way we’re going, it could be announced later today or tomorrow.

Ms Sturgeon has said that the school half-term holidays presented an “opportunity” for a concerted effort to stop the spread of the virus without causing disruption to education.

But she also said that she wanted to give the public as much notice as possible before any new rules were introduced, adding that this would be “at least a couple of days”.

The next briefing with Ms Sturgeon and Prof Leitch is scheduled for 12.15pm today where hopefully the road ahead will be made a little clearer.

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