Sturgeon vs Boris: FM on collision course with PM over lockdown policy

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The First Minister admitted there are economic benefits from people returning to the office but insisted “we simply can’t do everything right now”. She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We are still being very cautious and our advice in Scotland is if you can work from home then you should still be working from home.

“We are not encouraging people to rush back to the office.

“Notwithstanding the benefits of having people back to the office, to the high streets and businesses.

“But we think it is really important not to overload ourselves so that keeping the virus under control becomes much more difficult.

“Our priority over the past couple of months has been to get schools back full time and then to keep schools open and that depends on keeping community transmission of the virus as low as possible.

“To put it simply, while we would all like to go back to normal completely, we simply can’t do everything right now.

“We have got to make choices and we have got to be very clear about what our priorities are.”

Pressed on the economic impact of workers not returning to the office, the SNP leader said: “I am just trying to strike the balance as well as I can.

“It is not, unfortunately, a perfect science. There is not an absolutely right and absolutely wrong way to do this.

“I am acutely aware of the economic implications of everything we are doing to try to tackle Covid.

“But I am also acutely aware that if we lose the battle to keep Covid under control then that’s not good for the economy because we end up going back and having to put parts of our economy back into lockdowns.”

Ms Sturgeon’s approach is markedly different from the Prime Minister’s drive to get workers back in the office.

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It comes as coronavirus deaths in Scotland have hit their highest level in more than two months, with three fatalities were recorded in a single day for the first time since June 30.

The three new deaths took the country’s toll to 2,499.

The number of confirmed cases in Scotland has risen by 176 to an overall total of 21,719.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said she does not expect to be able to further ease lockdown restrictions when guidance is reviewed on Thursday.

The First Minister said: “It’s only fair that I signal now that, while final decisions have not yet been taken, when we do our latest three-weekly review on Thursday we may well not be able to go ahead with any further easing of restrictions.

“At this time obviously we want to do everything possible to avoid the situation where more restrictions that have been lifted have to be reimposed.

“And the key to avoiding that rests with all of us; the decisions we make as individuals, still affect the safety and well being of our communities.

“So please do everything you can to avoid creating a bridge for the virus to cross over from one person to another, one household to another.”

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