SCOTLAND'S pubs will have to close for 16 days and no alcohol will be able to be served in restaurants across the nation, leaked documents claimed today.
Nicola Sturgeon is expected to introduce harsher restrictions for all of Scotland this afternoon, as the UK-wide infection rate for coronavirus doubled in a week.
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Leaked documents today suggested a tough crackdown on boozing to stop the spread of the virus north of the border.
All pubs and bars will be forced to close for 16 days from Saturday, October 10 to Sunday, October 25 under a "brake to the virus", according to one document – potentially with longer shutdowns for the Central Belt.
But cafes and holiday accommodation will remain open, and "financial compensation" is being prepared for the holiday sector, screenshots purporting to be of Scottish Government policy and guidance suggest.
It also said "to protect us all, we're applying a brake to the virus for 16 days only, from Saturday 10 to Sunday 25 October, across Scotland."
The new lockdown for Scotland is reported to include:
- Pubs and bars to shut for 16 days
- No alcohol served in restaurants – but cafes and restaurants can remain open
- All indoor visitor attractions will be closed
- People can still use holiday accommodation but they should stay local if they can
- Separate leaked documents claimed hospitality venues will have a new curfew – banning them from opening after 6pm
- Scotland's so-called central belt could face restrictions for longer
- There are likely to be exemptions for events such as weddings, and meals in hotels will be allowed
The details emerged ahead of a statement by Nicola Sturgeon in parliament at 2.50pm today.
Last month, a similar leak of a screenshot of plans for a "circuit breaker" was confirmed as genuine by Scottish Government sources.
There is already a ban on meeting people from outside your own household indoors in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon told a daily briefing yesterday that she had been given "very strong" public health advice that tougher measures would be needed to deal with skyrocketing cases of coronavirus.
"The situation is not out of control, but it is a cause of concern," the First Minister added.
The rolling 7-day average number of daily cases has soared from 285 in Scotland two weeks ago to 729.
Doctors have been told to prepare for new measures as soon as 7pm on Friday.
Ms Sturgeon insisted today: "We're not going back to March – that is not on the table, at the moment."
But an NHS source told The Sun last night: “We’ve been told to expect it from 7pm on Friday.”
Schools will not be closed to ensure kids keep getting the crucial face-to-face education they need, and people will not be given the same strict "stay at home" measures in March.
Scientists have repeatedly pointed the finger at pubs and restaurants for being Covid hotspots.
Professor of child heath and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, Calum Semple, who is a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said a "circuit-breaker" lockdown could help stem the growing tide of infections.
Professor Semple told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "perhaps a circuit breaker a couple of weeks ago would have been really good idea".
He added: "It's always easier to reduce an outbreak at the earlier stage than to let it run and then try to reduce it at a later stage.
"So, yes, circuit breakers are certainly something we should be thinking about on a national basis."
But writing in The Sun, Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, told ministers to "hold the panic button" and not bring in "more draconian rules".
He wrote: "At the moment we do not need to bring in any more rules that will hammer the hospitality sector, or the economy at large. There needs to be a razor-sharp focus on getting the current systems running smoothly and effectively.
"We need to hold our nerve, rather than hitting the panic button."
Fears of another Scottish shutdown comes as parts of the North of England are also facing even tougher restrictions.
Pubs and restaurants face closure in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak scrambling to put together a local bailout package for businesses facing ruin.
A “white-faced briefing” from senior medics at Downing Street about soaring virus numbers in the North West and North East has prompted the PM to delay his plan to replace complex local lockdown rules with a simpler traffic light system.
A No 10 source said: “The numbers are going the wrong way, and there will come a point very soon where we simply have to do more.”
Nationwide, the daily infection rate was 14,542 — up around 2,000 in 24 hours — with 76 deaths.
The worst-hit area is Manchester, where 3,105 new cases were recorded in the seven days to October 3 — the equivalent of 561.6 per 100,000 people.
That is up from 261.2 in the week before.
Merseyside is next, with Knowsley and Liverpool both recording sharp rises over 500 per 100,000, followed by Newcastle upon Tyne.
The UK-wide seven-day average rate stands at 125.7 cases per 100,000, up from 63.8 a week ago.
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