Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Deputy First Minister’s statement - Friday 13 November 2020

Statement given by Deputy First Minister John Swinney at a media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh, on Friday 13 November 2020

Thank you very much for joining us again today. Good afternoon.

I will start with the usual update on today’s statistics.

The total number of positive cases reported yesterday was 1,357.

That represents 5.7% of the total number of tests, and takes the total number of confirmed cases in Scotland to 79,017.

433 of the new cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 267 in Lanarkshire, 163 in Lothian, 148 in Fife, and 101 in Tayside.

The remaining 245 cases were spread across 7 other health board areas.

I can also confirm that 1,228 people are currently in hospital – that is an increase of 21 from yesterday.

And 96 people are in intensive care, which is a decrease of 2 from yesterday.

And with immense regret I have to say that 56 deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours of a patient who first tested positive over the previous 28 days.

That takes the total number of deaths, under this measurement, to 3,244.

That figure reminds us once again of the heartbreak that has been caused by this virus. I want to send my deepest condolences to all those who have lost a loved one and assure them they are very much in all of our thoughts.

I’m joined today by Dr Dave Caesar, who is one of our Deputy Chief Medical Officers. Dr Caesar will be helping me to answer the questions shortly from journalists.

Before that, there are a few issues I’d like to provide an update about today..

The first is about the economic consequences of Covid-19. And it’s specifically about support for skills during the pandemic.

This year the Scottish Government has doubled – to £20 million – our Flexible Workplace Development Fund. The fund provides employers with up to £15,000 worth of college or Open University training, for their employees. And it is designed to help organizations to address skills gaps.

The first part of this year’s fund, worth £13 million was aimed at employers who pay the UK Government Apprenticeship levy.

Applications for the second stage of the fund, worth £7 million, will open on Monday. This time, as well as apprenticeship levy payers, it is open to all small and medium businesses. And it is specifically aimed at protecting jobs by helping employers adapt, to the impact of Covid-19.

For example, at a time when so many aspects of work have moved online, the fund could help organisations to develop their employees’ digital skills. It can help with areas such as leadership and management training. And upskilling and reskilling will also help businesses to seize new opportunities, as we emerge from this crisis, for example, through language training for small companies exploring export opportunities.

So I would encourage any eligible businesses or organisation to apply. Information about how to do so, can be found on the Scottish Funding Council website.

My second update for today concerns international travel.

Last night, the Scottish Government announced a number of changes to list of countries that are subject to quarantine requirements.

Based on an assessment of the latest data, we have now added Greece to the quarantine list. However, the Greek Islands of Rhodes, Cos, Corfu, Crete and Zante will remain exempt.

We have also added to the list Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the British sovereign base areas in Cyprus. Cyprus itself is already subject to the quarantine requirements.

These changes mean that from 4am tomorrow, anyone travelling to Scotland from any part of Greece - other than the 5 islands I have mentioned – or from Akrotiri and Dhekelia, will need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.

Since last Saturday there has been travel ban on visitors from Denmark entering any part of the United Kingdom, including Scotland. I can confirm that ban remains in place.

In addition, the Scottish Government also removed a number of countries from our quarantine list. Those countries are:

  • Bahrain
  • Cambodia
  • Chile
  • Iceland
  • Laos
  • Qatar
  • the United Arab Emirates;

We have also removed the Turks and Caicos Islands.

It means that from 4am tomorrow, anyone who travels to Scotland from these places will no longer be required to self-isolate.

These changes are a reminder that, while the virus is resurgent in much of the world right now, there are real variations, between different countries and areas. And the situation can change very rapidly.

That is, of course, the nature of a global pandemic. And its why are continuing to advise very strongly against non-essential overseas travel, at the moment.

On Tuesday, the Scottish Government announced changes to the restrictions for certain parts of the country. And today, those changes come into effect.

The first applies to people living in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles. Residents of those islands are now able to meet with one other household inside their homes, up to a strict maximum of six people.

However, in order to minimize risk of the virus being imported, we are advising anyone who goes to or returns to the islands, from the mainland, to avoid in-house mixing for a period after their return.

The second change applies in Fife, Angus and Perth and Kinross. From today, those local authority areas have moved from level 2 to level 3.

The Scottish Government website sets out the detail of the level 3 restrictions. However, there is one specific aspect of the guidance, in relation to this level, that I want to highlight.

If you live in a level 3 area, which now includes Fife, Angus and Perth and Kinross, you should not travel outside your own local authority area unless it is for an essential reason, such as work that can’t be done at home, for healthcare, or for caring responsibilities.

And if you live elsewhere, you should not travel into a level 3 area, except for those same essential purposes.

In addition, of course, our advice to everyone right now is that you should not travel to other parts of the United Kingdom unless it is essential.

I appreciate how difficult these restrictions are. And nobody likes the fact that they have to be in place. But they are essential, if we are to stop the virus spreading from high prevalence areas to lower prevalence areas.

So please follow the travel guidance. And if you are any doubt which level applies where, the Scottish Government’s website has a postcode checker that can help you to find out the relevant information for your area.

I’ve spoken in some detail today about the guidance on travel. In a moment, I will quickly recap the other general rules and guidelines.

Before I do that, though, I want to acknowledge one piece of very, very good news. Like many of you, I was in a high state of nerves last night, watching the Scotland men’s football team, take on Serbia. And so I want to take this opportunity congratulate the Scotland side, on qualifying for Euro 2020. It is a magnificent achievement and a real piece of bright good news for us all.

After a very tough year, the team have given the whole nation a lift, at a time when we really needed it. And we can all now look forward to Scotland taking part in the tournament, next year after such a long break from these competitions.

But to put us in the best place to enjoy that, we have to suppress the virus. So before we move onto questions, let me remind you, once again, how we can all play our part in doing that.

At the moment, none of us outside of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles should be visiting each other’s homes except for very specific purposes, such as childcare.

When we are meeting people from other households, either outdoors or in places such as cafes, the limit is six people, from a maximum of two households.

Avoid car-sharing if you can.

Work from home if you can.

Download the Protect Scotland app, if you are able to.

And finally, remember the five key rules that we can all use, to reduce our chance of getting the virus, or of passing it on:

  • remember face coverings
  • remember to avoid places with crowds of people
  • clean your hands and clean hard surfaces
  • keep two metres distance from people from other households
  • and self-isolate, and get tested immediately, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID.

    These rules will help to protect us, our communities and our NHS. And they will also help to save lives.

So please continue to stick with it, and to stick together.

And thank you to everyone who is doing that. You are making a difference in the suppression of the virus.

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