- 5 Jun 2020
Good afternoon everyone. As you can see, I’m joined today by Iain Livingstone, Chief Constable of Police Scotland and by Professor Jason Leitch, our National Clinical Director.
I’ll start today – as I always do – by updating you on some of the key statistics in relation to COVID-19.
As at 9 o’clock this morning, there have been 15,582 positive cases confirmed – which is an increase of 29 from yesterday.
A total of 995 patients are in hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. That represents a decrease of 26 from yesterday, including a decrease of nine in the number of confirmed cases.
Now as I said yesterday, in relation to the number of people who had their deaths registered in the previous day, we have to be very careful at reading too much into single day figures, but nevertheless I think it is reasonable to point out, that this is the first time since the 30 March, that the number of patients in hospital has been lower than 1,000. So again, a positive indication of the progress that we are making.
A total of 23 people last night were in intensive care with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. That is a decrease of five since yesterday.
I am also able to confirm today that since 5 March, a total of 3,778 patients who had tested positive for the virus have now been able to leave hospital.
In the last 24 hours though, 14 deaths have been registered of patients confirmed through a test as having COVID-19 – that takes the total number of deaths in Scotland, under that measurement, to 2,409.
Now as I always do, I want to stress that these numbers are not just statistics. They are individuals whose loss is being deeply felt by their loved ones. So - once again – I want to send my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one to this virus.
I also want to express my thanks – as I always do – to our health and care workers. Your efforts are enormously appreciated – and not just by me and by the Scottish Government, they are appreciated, I know, by everyone in Scotland.
There are – of course – many other frontline and key workers who are helping the country through this crisis and with the Chief Constable here today, I want to take the opportunity to say a special thank you again, to our police officers and staff. They are also working under real pressure at the moment but they are doing an exceptional job for all of us.
There are two items I want to cover today.
The first concerns the economic impact of COVID-19. I have just come from the Cabinet sub-committee on the economy earlier this morning – where we noted the latest monthly report, from our Chief Economist.
That document, which was published this morning, provides a summary of Scotland’s key economic statistics.
Among other things, it shows that - in the first half of May – almost 1/5 of businesses in Scotland were temporarily closed and that contributed to more than 750,000 people being furloughed or unable to work as normal.
The report also shows that turnover is down in almost every sector of our economy.
And it contains new modelling, which takes account of the different phases for easing lockdown. On that basis, the report forecasts a more gradual economic recovery – one which might not see us return to pre-crisis levels, for a number of years.
In short, today’s publication confirms the scale of the economic crisis that we now face. In doing that, it further underlines why government action is so important and why it will continue to be so important.
The Scottish Government has already allocated more than £2.3 billion to help businesses and protect jobs. And of course that’s before we consider important UK-wide measures currently in place – such as the Job Retention scheme.
That kind of support is helping to mitigate some of the economic impact of this crisis. And it will continue to be vital as our businesses seek to rebuild.
And I want to again today give an assurance that the Scottish Government is determined to everything we can to support that process of rebuilding and recovery. We will continue to do everything we can to protect your livelihoods. That’s important in the short-term, but it is also vital to help lay the groundwork, for a sustainable economic recovery.
Of course that recovery will be helped by continued progress against this virus. If we have a set-back in tackling the virus, it will make the re-opening of our economy all the more difficult.
So the second item I want to cover today, is directly related to the first, and it concerns the current lockdown restrictions and particularly how I hope the people will comply with them over this weekend and beyond.
We’re now, of course, at the close of the first full week since we moved into phase 1 of our route map out of lockdown – and eased some of the restrictions. So far, the vast majority of people have stuck by the new rules. And I want to take the opportunity again today, to thank all of you who have continued to do the right thing.
However, it’s also clear that – over the past week – not absolutely everyone has done that. The Chief Constable may say more later about compliance – and how the restrictions will be enforced, if necessary.
For my part, I want to set out very clearly again today, what the current rules are. And to do that, instead of focussing on what we are now allowed to do, I want to again emphasise what we’re asking everyone not to do because it’s by not doing the things, that we know from the evidence that allows the virus to spread more easily, that we will keep it under control.
So to start, you mustn’t meet people from other households indoors. I know that might be a particular temptation on a weekend like this – when we’re expecting again poor weather. But let me be clear, that is extremely high risk. We know - and we don’t know everything yet about this virus - but we do know that it transmits much more easily between people inside than it does outside. So if you’re not willing to meet outdoors – in all likelihood the rain – please do not meet up with people from other households at all and I cannot emphasise that strongly enough. I am not exaggerating when I say that if you do meet people from other households indoors, you are putting yourselves and you are putting them at risk of getting the virus of becoming ill with it and potentially dying from it and I would ask you not – please – to take that risk.
However, while the risk of meeting outdoors is lower, it is not absolutely zero – so that means that if you do meet outdoors, you must not get within 2 metres of members of another household.
You should certainly not be shaking their hands or hugging them, difficult though I know that is and you shouldn’t share food of utensils with people from other households of touch hard surfaces that they may also have touched because again, these are ways in which we know the virus spreads relatively easily.
And were asking that – when two households do meet up – there should be no more than eight people in total in a group. In addition, you should not go more than five miles for recreation and you shouldn’t leave your face uncovered if you are in and enclosed space like a shop and public transport.
Wearing a face covering helps you protect others – and having others wear a face covering – means that they help protect you.
A more general point I want to make is that – even now – you should still be seeing far fewer people than you might normally do. And you should still be trying to stay at home as much as you possible.
Basically, if you start to feel that your social life is returning to normal – that’s not a good sign right now.
That message applies to everyone – but it’s perhaps particularly relevant to young people. I want, today, to make a special plea to all of you, the young people of Scotland. Many of you – I know – will be desperate to spend more time with your pals, after weeks of being apart. You might even think that as young people, you are less likely to become seriously ill as a result of the virus and I know this from speaking to the young people in my own life.
But I want to be very clear – you are not immune from this virus, you can get it and it can be very harmful to you.
But even if you’re not seriously affected yourself, you can still pass it on to other young people. They might then pass it on to others who are at greater risk from COVID-19 – such as their parents or grandparents. And that could have really tragic consequences.
So I would urge you – and I know you all know how important this is – please don’t just think about your own risk, please think about the risk to your parents and your grandparents and to your friends’ parents and grandparents. Don’t take risks that you could end up regretting and possibly grieving in the weeks ahead. Please stick to the rules.
Can I also say finally, just a very brief word and a very heartfelt word to those who I know want to make their voices heard this weekend in support of Black Lives Matter.
I want to urge you to make your voices heard. We all feel very strongly about this but I want to ask you, to do so safely.
In normal times, I may well have been planning to join a gathering of support this weekend. But coming together in mass gatherings right now is simply not safe. It poses a real risk to health and it poses a real risk to life.
So I would encourage you to read the statement that was issued yesterday by Kadi Johnson, Sheku Bayoh’s sister, and by Humza Yousaf, Anas Sarwar and Aamer Anwar asking people to protest in different ways.
For example you can make your voice heard online, you can lobby elected representatives, or you can make a donation to anti-racism campaigns but please, please, try to stay within the rules that are there for your own protection and above all please stay safe.
In fact, that’s a message which all of us should heed. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s okay to do something this weekend, ask yourself if you’ve giving the virus an opportunity to spread. And if you’re in doubt about whether your plans are within the rules or not, please err on the side of caution.
Above all else, please remember that every single decision we take right now as individuals, will affect the safety and the wellbeing of everyone.
The progress we’ve made against this virus – over these past few weeks – is real and I say that every day because I mean it – and it is as a result of all of us, overwhelmingly, sticking to these rules. And that kind of collective effort will continue to be vital – as we slow the spread of this virus, even further.
I’m confident that the vast majority of you will continue to play your part. And I want thank all of you, in advance, for showing that solidarity with each other and for doing exactly that.