Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to speak to Nicola Sturgeon in the “coming days” following an urgent appeal she made on Thursday.
Speaking at an unscheduled update in Holyrood, the first minister told Scots to limit contact with others as the Omicron Covid variant rapidly spreads.
Ms Sturgeon said the variant will likely become the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland by tomorrow.
More than 50% of over 18s have received a booster vaccine, but Ms Sturgeon warned the variant was “spreading faster than even the fastest rollout of vaccines”.
She requested to speak to the prime minister the same day to press for financial support for businesses as she urged people to stay at home more than they normally would.
3/ Devolved governments have no mechanism to trigger financial support at this scale – only @hmtreasury can. Notwithstanding reports of a refusal, I hope the PM will agree to talks as a matter of urgency. Urgent action is needed to protect the NHS, lives and livelihoods.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 16, 2021
However, Mr Johnson turned down the request to meet on Thursday, though committed to talks “in the coming days”.
No. 10 agrees to work ‘closely’ with Scottish Government
A No. 10 spokesman said: “We are working closely with the Scottish Government on the shared challenge the new variant poses to us all across the UK – this has included a number of COBR meetings with the first ministers and deputy first minister to co-ordinate, discuss and act on the latest data and information we have.
“In the coming days we will continue to engage and work closely with the Scottish Government because that is what people across the UK expect.
“We’ve acted rapidly to support and give the Scottish Government the certainty to spend additional money in the coming weeks – exactly as they have asked in our discussions – and we will continue to listen carefully as that co-operation steps up.”