Nicola Sturgeon unveils new Covid plan… weeks after raging at reporter for suggesting it

Nicola Sturgeon confirms further allocation for business support

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Nicola Sturgeon said her Government will release extra funds to help businesses struggling with the current coronavirus restrictions across Scotland. And the SNP leader also confirmed self-isolation times will be reduced from 10 days to seven. She had previously hit out at a reporter during one of her press conferences for making the suggestion, saying that would have helped the virus spread.

The First Minister faced pressure from opposition parties to make the change, which applies as long as people test negative on days six and seven of isolation.

The change was announced as Ms Sturgeon confirmed 16,103 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

She said more than one in 20 people in Scotland are likely to have the virus and she expects this to rise, warning the volume of cases means Covid-19 “still has the potential to overwhelm us”.

But on December 17, the Scottish First Minister erupted at reporter Mike Blackley for questioning her on the support available to businesses amid criticism from the hospitality sector.

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The Political Editor suggested the £66 million then available only amounted to a couple of thousand per-premises, which have been heavily impacted by a collapse in footfall over the Christmas period.

Mr Blackley added challenged whether the funds were “really enough” as he questioned if more money could not be found in the budget Ms Sturgeon is currently gunning for in the Scottish Parliament.

The announcement sparked ridicule among Scottish politics commentators, with newsagency editor Michael Havis saying: “She’s just a nasty bit of work really.”

Sharing footage of the exchange, GB News reporter Ryan Capperauld said on Twitter: “It’s going to be absolutely astonishing today when the First Minister announces the exact policy she berated a journalist for asking about a few weeks back.”

 

Covid-19: 1 in 20 cases in Scotland at end of December says Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon insisted the change was a “balance between the continued importance of self-isolation in breaking chains of transmission and reducing the disruption that self-isolation causes in the economy and other critical services.”

On Wednesday, she also confirmed an additional £110 million will be made available to support a larger chunk of struggling businesses.

She said: “Another £55 million will be allocated, up to £28 million will be allocated to taxi and private hire drivers and operators.

“Nineteen million will support services such as beauticians and hairdressers, £5 million will be provided for sport and an additional £3 million for tourism.”

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In a further alteration to current rules, people who test positive on a lateral flow device will no longer need to take a PCR test to confirm the result, but instead, immediately isolate and report the result to Test and Protect.

This applies only to those without symptoms.

All changes come into effect from midnight on Wednesday.

The First Minister said cases have risen by 87 percent in the past week, with people in hospital rising by 80 percent in the same period to 1,223.

However, the number of people in intensive care is “remaining stable”, with 42 patients as of Tuesday night.

Scotland recorded a further five deaths in the past 24 hours of people who tested positive for the virus in the last 28 days, taking this total to 8,872.

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