Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's speech 14 August 2020

Statement given by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh on Friday 14 August.

Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us again today, let me firstly give the usual update on the Covid-19 statistics.

I can confirm that an additional 65 positive cases were confirmed yesterday.

That represents 1.6% of people newly tested yesterday, and takes the total number of cases now to 19,238.

The full health board breakdown will be available later as usual, but I’ll give the provisional information and that is 28 of the 65 new cases are in the Grampian health board area.

Nine are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 12 in Lanarkshire - which between them may reflect a cluster in north-east Glasgow. And there are two cases reported in today’s figure for Orkney.

A total of 253 patients are in hospital with confirmed Covid, which is five fewer than yesterday.

Three people are in intensive care which is the same as yesterday.

I’m also very pleased to say that yet again in the past 24 hours, we have had no deaths registered of patients who had tested positive  for Covid so the number of deaths under that measurement remains 2,491.

Obviously that overall figure is a reminder of the impact of the virus and again I want to send my thoughts and condolences to those who have lost a loved one.

And as always, to say a very big and heartfelt thank you to everybody in whatever capacity they are working to get country through this difficult period.

I am joined by the Justice Secretary, who will talk in a moment about some arrangements for high court trials, and also cover today’s announcements in relation to quarantine requirements for people returning from holiday from countries such as France, Malta and the Netherlands. And then Jason Leitch will say a word or two before we take questions.

There are a couple of issues I want to say a bit more about today before any of that.

Firstly, I’ll provide some further detail about the ongoing outbreak in Aberdeen.

I mentioned a moment ago that 28 of the 65 new cases reported today are in Grampian. I can say that on the latest figures we have available, since the 26th of July, there have been a total of 328 cases identified in Grampian.

And as of now, we believe that 198 of these are associated with the cluster linked to Aberdeen pubs, and 1032 contacts have now been identified from these 198 cases. Contact tracing continues for what remains a very large and a very complex outbreak, and I am grateful once again to our health team and our test and protect teams.

I think it is clear from the numbers I have just given, that we will continue to see new cases and new contacts identified in Aberdeen in the coming days. But we are hopeful that this is an outbreak that will be brought firmly under control.

We are also continuing to monitor developments in relation to smaller clusters that I spoke about yesterday and I’ve referred to already today,  firstly on Orkney, and secondly in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde are around north-east Glasgow, which will have potentially an impact on the Lanarkshire figures as well.

The other item I wanted to update on today relates to the new rules and guidance which are coming into force today for the hospitality sector. We know that pubs and restaurants are higher risk locations for transmission of COVID and we are seeing that reflected in our data right now

When the hospitality sector reopened, the Scottish Government published guidance on issues like physical distancing, hygiene, and the collection of customer details.  

Many businesses, I believe the majority of businesses, have complied well with those measures, and I am grateful to all of them.

But I also know there are premises where that has not been the case. 

We’ve had a particular concern over venues where crowding has become an issue - due to poor compliance with physical distancing, or premises exceeding their safe capacity. 

We want to do everything possible to ensure that our hospitality sector, now that is has reopened, can remain open safely.

But it is absolutely essential that we guard against future outbreaks. The volume of cases that we are still dealing with in Aberdeen – many of which seem to have been the result of transmission in pubs - shows the importance of that.

So for that reason, two important new measures are coming into force today.

Firstly, it is now mandatory for hospitality businesses, including cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to collect customer and visitor contact details.

That requirement already exists in guidance – and I know many businesses are already doing this. But it is now the law.  It is an essential step to ensure that our Test and Protect system can function as effectively as possible.

So from now on, all hospitality businesses must collect contact details for all visitors to their premises. That includes obviously customers and staff but also people such as cleaners and delivery drivers.  And let me make this point clear as well, particularly to members of the public, if customers refuse to provide these details, they should not be served in the place that they are trying to be served in.

The second measure, is that we have today issued new statutory guidance relating to hospitality. 

By making the guidance statutory – so that premises must take account of it – we are aiming to ensure greater compliance with the guidelines.

The guidance makes clear, for example, that there should be no indoor queuing in these premises. And if there has to be queuing outside of the premises which we are asking premises to avoid, but if it is necessary for safety reasons, people queueing must be physically distanced.  

The guidance also states that people should not be standing together in a bar or restaurant. People should be seated only, with table service to them.

Physical distancing must be possible. Customers must be at least, in a hospitality premise, one metre apart - unless they are part of  the same household group.

Businesses must therefore review their layouts to ensure that one metre distancing – at least - is possible. They should clearly signpost the requirement for distancing. And they must not admit more people than can safely gather in their premises abiding by the physical distancing rules.

And they are reminded – as customers are – of the current law on indoor and outdoor gatherings. Friends should not be meeting indoors in groups of more than eight people and those eight people should be from no more than three different households.  If larger gatherings seem to be forming in a pub or a restaurant, then that should be challenged by those employed  running the business.

We also recommend that face coverings should be used for front of house staff rather than face visors because there is now some evidence that they are more effective.

And finally, there should be no background music – or volume from a television because we don’t want people having to shout to be heard or lean in to each other because we know that increases the risks of transmission. Now let me say on that point, I know, absolutely all of us know, that atmosphere in pubs and restaurants is important, so we are willing to work with the sector to see if it might be possible to agree a more nuanced position based on an acceptable decibel level, but as you will gather just from what I have said there that will not be simple and it will take time. So, in the meantime the rule is there should be no background music in pubs and restaurants.

I want to stress that most of these changes will not represent new burdens on businesses. They should already be doing most or all of these things.  But the changes should now ensure that all businesses are doing everything possible to make their premises safe.

Ultimately, this is in everybody’s interest.

Self-evidently, it’s in the public interest to reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted in pubs and restaurants – and to ensure that where there are outbreaks Test and Protect can contact everybody it needs to contact.

And it is also in the interests of the hospitality trade. The rules and guidance that take effect today are vital in ensuring that the sector can stay open safely now and into the winter period.

Alongside the guidance for hospitality businesses, we are publishing guidance for customers.  This will appear on the Scottish Government’s website, and if you are planning to go to a pub or restaurant I would ask you to take the time to read it, because the responsibility for ensuring that these rules operate effectively does not just belong to government, or indeed to businesses. It lies with all of us.

In particular, I want to remind everyone that the rules on indoor and outdoor gatherings apply, not just in your own homes although they are very important in your own homes or gardens, but they also apply in bars and restaurants.

No more than three households, with a maximum of eight people, should be meeting together indoors, whether that is  a house, pub, restaurant or cafe. Outdoors, the maximum group size is 15 people, from no more than five households.

And within any group, people from different households must physically distance.

I know that sticking to that can be difficult. But it is really crucial.

Keeping our distance from other households, is an essential part of minimising the risk of transmission.

And finally, we are asking customers to  minimise the number of premises you visit in any one day.

The more settings you go to, the more likely you might be to get Covid, and the more likely you might be to spread it. Visiting lots of pubs in a single day or evening massively increases as well the workload potentially of Test and Protect.

So please think about that. It makes a really big difference if you stay in one pub, or whether you go to several.

And more generally, if you are going out a lot at the moment, and this is a really difficult thing to ask people to do, but I am going to ask you to think about that. If you are going out to pubs or restaurants or going to other people’s houses regularly because as I have said before  this is not easy – nobody’s life should be feeling absolutely normal yet. Nobody’s social life should feel exactly as it was before Covid struck.

The guidance we are publishing today will only work if all of us, as customers, individuals, as citizens, play our part. So I would encourage everybody to read the guidance, think about it, and help our hospitality businesses stay open. This is not easy and I am very aware as I have just read through the rules and regulations there, that it is complicated. So please, if you are going out, take the time to familiarise yourself with the guidance first and try to stick to it when you are out.

And as I said yesterday, I have said before, wherever you are, assume the virus is in the room with you, because it very possibly is and therefore everything you do in sticking to these rules is denying it the opportunities to spread.

And lastly, just let me repeat my warning yesterday about house parties or gatherings. They pose a real risk and again the data we have from Test and Protect show that they are a driver of transmission right now, just as hospitality premises are. So remember, in your own home or in a friend’s house, no more than eight people from no more than three households should be gathering together. And you must keep a 2 metre distance from people from different households. It’s  pain for everybody to be living this way but it is better than having this virus run out of control. So please, I am appealing to everybody, to be very conscious about everything you are doing in this regard right now.

And that brings me to the fundamental point but the one  I want to end on, and it is one you have heard me make so many times before but it is really important that we all understand it.

Ultimately, the spread of this virus, whether it accelerates again or we manage to keep it under control, comes down to the decisions all of us are making as individuals.

So we need to think very carefully about those decisions. It’s quite simple, if we all stick to the rules and the guidance,  then we don’t completely eradicate the risk of this virus because that’s not how viruses work, but we massively reduce the risks of it spreading from one of us to another and from one household to another. So, please think carefully about this. Aberdeen tells us that we can go backwards in this journey out of lockdown just as easily, perhaps more easily if we are not careful than we can go forwards.

So, I’ll end with my usual reminder of the FACTS campaign. It is so important that everybody follows these five golden rules.

Face coverings, shops, public transport already the law of course, but in any enclosed space

Avoid crowded places. That obviously is really important indoors but it is important outdoors as well

Clean your hands obsessively and clean hard surfaces, that you are touching, obsessively as well

Two metre distancing remains the rule

and Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms.

Let me remind you what the symptoms are because I have heard one or two suggestions in recent days that people are still not familiar with the symptoms to look out for, which is understandable, so let me remind you.

A new cough, a fever, or a loss of or change to your sense of taste or smell. Any one of these symptoms or anything that is worrying you around with that,don’t wait to see if you feel better. Go to NHS inform and book a test straight away and apart from going to get the test, self-isolate immediately because that helps us straight away reduce and break those potential chains of transmission.

So, thank you again for doing all of this and please, my final point before handing over to the Justice Secretary, is for those of you watching this and hearing this directly, please help me get this message to as wide an audience as possible by passing it on to your family members, who might be at work or school, passing it on to your friends, people you work with.

We all have a job to do here to make sure everybody knows what we should be doing and shouldn’t be doing and all of us stick to that.

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