Watch: Scotland bans visiting other households
Nicola Sturgeon announces ban on household visits in Scotland
Rule goes further than any measure announced just two hours earlier by Boris Johnson for England, amid calls for PM to impose tighter restrictions
Another sign of tension between Westminster and Edinburgh governments
Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has banned households visiting each other from Wednesday – a rule which goes further than any of the new measures which had been announced by Johnson just two hours earlier.
The prime minister set out measures such as encouraging office staff to work from home, pubs closing at 10pm and wedding attendance being cut from 30 to 15.
Johnson said the devolved administrations would be “taking similar steps”.
Sturgeon, however, then announced the banning of household visits in addition to the measures such as working from home and 10pm pub closures.
She cited data suggesting the ban – having already applied in the west of Scotland – had reduced the spread of the virus, and that extending it to the rest of the country could reduce transmission.
A number of areas in northern England – including Leicester, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, parts of West Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and the North East – are currently subject to localised restrictions which ban households mixing.
Such restrictions have yet to be introduced in other parts of the country.
Earlier, a government adviser warned Johnson’s “rule of six” laws – which ban most social gatherings of more than six people in England – do not go far enough and that immediate action is needed to stop households mixing.
Prof Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The rule of six has been tried and not had time to kick in yet, but based on the numbers I’m seeing it doesn’t go far enough – so I do think we’ll be restricting inter-mingling between households.”
The contrasting approaches of the Westminster and Edinburgh governments has been a running theme throughout the pandemic.
Scotland secretary Alister Jack expressed frustration about this when appearing before the Scottish affairs committee last week, telling MPs: “We need to stop the confusion, all the administrations in these weekly meetings we have, should actually just be grown up, and not be different for the sake of it.”
Johnson has regularly expressed his unease at imposing restrictions, while the PM has also faced a revolt from his own Tory MPs over the rule of six.
Backbenchers have warned Johnson not to go too far, with one, Steve Baker, saying: “It is time for us to actually start living like a free people, not subjecting ourselves to constantly shifting legal requirements, which I think now no one can fully understand.”
Tuesday’s new restrictions in England and Scotland were announced a day after Sir Patrick Vallance’s dire warning that infections are doubling every seven days and that if this continues unabated, the UK could see 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October.
The Westminster government’s chief scientific adviser made a pointed call for “speed and action” to slow down the infection rate.
As of 9am on Tuesday (22 September), there had been a further 4,926 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK, compared to 1,288 on 22 August.
A further 37 people had died having tested positive for the virus in the past 28 days, the UK government said.