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First Minister's Covid-19 update - 21.12.2021 - Key points, and the SCC response - Perthshire Chamber of Commerce

First Minister's Covid-19 update - 21.12.2021 - Key points, and the SCC response

Scotland's First Minister provided a COVID 19 update today.

Following are the key points, and the SCC response to the update.

Today’s statistics:

5,242 positive cases were reported yesterday – 14.9% of all tests carried out.

515 people are in hospital with Covid – 1 fewer than yesterday.

37 people are in intensive care, which is 1 fewer than yesterday.

Sadly, a further 9 deaths have been reported, taking the total number of deaths under
the daily definition to 9,790.

 

Omicron:

Omicron has now firmly established itself as the dominant strain.

We know from the S gene drop out indicator that it now accounts for 62.9% of all cases
- compared to 27.5% this time last week.

Omicron is significantly more transmissible than previous variants and has an R
number well above 3.

It is currently spreading rapidly across Scotland, and so the steep increase in
infections that was predicted last week has now started to materialise.

Cases increased by more than 50% in the past week - from over 3,500 a day to almost
5,500 a day.

There were increases across all age groups but the biggest - of 161% - was in 20 to
24 year olds.

Christmas Day:

No changes – but minimise your contacts as much as possible between now and then.

Please stay at home as much as possible. When you do go out, please maintain physical distancing from people not in your group.

Reinforces current work from home, stay at home and basic guidelines messages. 

New Restrictions:

Sports and large gatherings:

First, from 26 December - inclusive - for a period of three weeks, SG intend to place
limits on the size of public events that can take place. This does not apply to private
life events such as weddings.

For indoor standing events the limit will be 100; for indoor seated events it will be
200; and for outdoor events it will be 500 seated or standing.

Physical distancing of 1 metre will be required at events that go ahead within these
limits.

This will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free
over this three-week period.

And it will also mean that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations - including that
planned here in Edinburgh - will not proceed.

Secondly, SG intend to issue guidance to the effect that non-professional indoor
contact sports for adults should not take place during the three-week period from 26
December. 

This is because these activities, where physical distancing is not
possible, also create a heightened risk of transmission.

Hospitality: 

Finally - from 27 December, again for a three-week period - SG intend to introduce
some further protections in hospitality settings and other indoor public places to
reduce transmission risk in what are, through no fault of those who run such venues,
higher risk environments.

FM confirms that a requirement for table service only will be reintroduced for venues
serving alcohol for consumption on the premises

SG we will also ask indoor hospitality and leisure venues to ensure 1 metre
distance, not within, but between groups of people who are attending together.

SG will continue to advise people that if they are attending indoor hospitality or
leisure venues - and remember our core advice remains to minimise this - there
should be no more than 3 households represented in any group. 
Business Support:

FM announced £100m of support from within our existing resources for
affected sectors. 

FM can also confirm eligibility and guidance for the hospitality sector
will be published on the Scottish Government website today. 
SG estimate that the Treasury announcements do give us additional
spending power now of £175 million. FM can confirm today that we will allocate all of
this to business support.

The Treasury has in the last hour or so just announced additional funding for
business. Unfortunately, FM said it would appear that this announcement generates no
further funding for Scotland and that any consequentials are contained within
previous announcements by the Treasury.

FM can, however, announce that the Scottish Government will allocate a further £100
million from elsewhere in the budget between now and the end of the financial year. 
Taken together, this adds up to a fund of £375 million that will help support business
for the unavoidable impacts of decisions over the next 3 weeks. 

 

Commenting on the First Minister’s COVID-19 update, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 “Businesses across Scotland have already lost millions of pounds in trade due to the return of restrictions and the confirmation that yet more restrictions will come into place from Boxing Day will be another hammer blow for employers and Scotland’s economy.

“Businesses across Scotland, who have been doing everything they can to keep their employees and customers safe, will be bitterly disappointed by these further restrictions. Some businesses and sectors will view this update as the equivalent of receiving a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking, further compounding the downturn in trade they have experienced in the crucial run up to the festive period.

“Businesses now urgently need to see the guidance and regulations that underpin this announcement to understand the full impact these changes will have on their capacity, how they operate and if they will even be able to open at all.

“The announcement of further additional financial support from the UK and Scottish Government for businesses today is welcome, however, it still does not go anywhere near far enough to compensating for the enormous financial losses firms are experiencing. January is beginning to look increasingly bleak for businesses and the prospect of an early return to economic growth in the New Year is now clearly at risk.

“It’s essential that the Scottish and UK Government do everything they can to get financial support out to businesses as quickly as possible and go further to ensure additional financial support is made available as a matter of urgency or the viability of more and more businesses will be put in the balance.

“The vaccination and booster programmes remain our best way back out of this crisis and again, both Governments need to work together to accelerate the rollout over the coming days and weeks to enable the removal of these additional restrictions at the earliest possible moment.”

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