LiveNicola Sturgeon statement RECAP: First Minister updates MSPs on next steps in Scotland’s exit from lockdown

Live updates on Covid-19 in Scotland, the UK, and around the world.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:49 pm

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Nicola Sturgeon gives a Covid update to MSPs.

Coronavirus in Scotland RECAP: The latest updates on Tuesday, March 23

Last updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2021, 12:56

Boris Johnson will be joined at the 5pm press conference by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, No 10 has said.

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What time is Nicola Sturgeon making her Scotland lockdown update today?

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Nation falls silent to remember Covid-19 victims

People across the UK have taken part in a minute’s silence to remember Covid-19 victims, marking one year since the first lockdown began.

UK’s wider Covid-19 death toll nears 150,000

More than 149,000 deaths involving coronavirus have now occurred in the UK, latest figures show.

A total of 149,117 people have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began, with more than a third of deaths (37%) occurring since the start of 2021.

The highest number of deaths to take place on a single day was 1,465 on January 19.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily death toll peaked at 1,459 deaths on April 8.

The figures have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and provide the fullest picture so far of how the Covid-19 pandemic has unfolded in the UK.

They are a more comprehensive measure of deaths than the numbers published daily by the Government, which count only those who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, and which currently stand at a total of 126,172.

The ONS total of 149,117 includes all mentions of Covid-19 on death certificates for deaths that have occurred up to March 12 2021, including suspected cases.

About nine in 10 registered coronavirus deaths have Covid-19 listed as the underlying cause.

Number of custodial sentences handed down rises after lockdown, figures show

Custodial sentences handed down in the Scottish justice system increased quickly following the first lockdown but remain at lower levels than 2019, a report has found.

The impact of coronavirus means it is difficult to assess the impact of a policy introducing a presumption against short-term sentences, the chief statistician for the Scottish Government said.

The Scottish Government introduced the policy in 2019, bringing in a presumption against jail sentences of 12 months or less.

This was in response to evidence that short jail sentences led to more reoffending when compared to community orders.

For a 12-week period starting in March 2020, courts were closed to all but priority business.

Arrangements for jury trials also affected the re-start of the courts system when the lockdown finished.

Quarterly figures for sentences handed down in Scottish courts show a sharp drop due to the first coronavirus lockdown.

The chief statistician’s report says: “Numbers of custodial disposals recovered [rose] quickly following lockdown (reflecting a system wide desire to prioritise more serious cases) and overall numbers are at lower levels than 2019.

“However, until the backlog of cases created by lockdown is cleared it is unclear if this trend will continue.

“Numbers of community disposals took longer to recover [increase] after lockdown and again, although numbers are lower than reported in 2019, it will not be until the backlog of cases is cleared that we will be able to assess long-term trends.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “As we mark one year since our country entered the first lockdown, my thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones since the pandemic began.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the ban on leaving the UK without a reasonable excuse, included in new coronavirus laws coming into force next week, had not changed the road map plans for international travel.

Third Covid wave likely this summer, says Sage expert

There is a “likelihood” of a third wave of coronavirus in the summer, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.

Professor Calum Semple told Sky News: “The concern at present is that in countries where there’s less vaccination and a very strong third wave, that’s the perfect breeding ground for further variants of concern.

“So, at this point, Britain has got its act together, the concern is as this third wave is going on elsewhere, that will generate new variations.

“Even within Britain there is a likelihood of a third wave in potentially July and August time when we do unlock society.

“That third wave we would expect to occur in people that are less susceptible to very severe disease.

“It’s inevitable as we unlock there will be an rise in cases, the key here is have we won the race to vaccinate the most vulnerable members of society so we can keep society open this time.”

Nicola Sturgeon pays tribute to Covid victims and families

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “One year on. Thinking today of all those who have lost a loved one to Covid, and to everyone who continues to make heartbreaking sacrifices as we continue to navigate our way through this terrible ordeal, together.

“Also, many people have lost loved ones to causes other than Covid over the past 12 months. The restrictions in place have made the grieving process even more difficult than it would have been – my thoughts are with you too.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it had been “probably the hardest year in a generation” as he reflected on 12 months since the first coronavirus lockdown was introduced.

The number of UK workers on payrolls increased by 68,000 last month but has fallen by 693,000 since February 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

More than £3m paid to support young disabled people in work during pandemic

More than £3 million has been given to help around 2,000 young disabled people in Scotland maintain employment during the pandemic.

The Transition Fund, administered by Independent Living Fund (ILF) Scotland, is for those aged between 16 and 25 and aims to help young people develop their independence, confidence and participation within their communities.

A record 1,822 applications were received since March 1 2020 – peaking during the outbreak.

Joe Eaglesham, from Evanton in the Highlands, has ADHD and dyslexia.

He was living in Glasgow before losing his job at the start of the pandemic.

On moving home, a family friend told him about the ILF Scotland Transition Fund and suggested he apply for funding support to help him pursue his dream of becoming a tree surgeon.

He used ILF funding to undertake training and get his qualifications in 2020 and he has just moved to Edinburgh for work.

The 23-year-old said: “For the first time in my life, I don’t feel a sense of dread and wake up excited to go to work.

“I’m so happy to now have a legitimate career after many difficult years at school where I felt held back due to my ADHD and dyslexia.

“I wish I’d heard about ILF Scotland back then.”

PM says restrictions are easing ‘once and for all’ a year on from first lockdown

Boris Johnson has said coronavirus restrictions are being eased “once and for all” as the UK marks the anniversary of the first national lockdown.

The Prime Minister offered his “sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones” and praised the “great spirit” displayed ahead of the nation pausing in remembrance on Tuesday.

With the official death toll passing 126,172 deaths, Mr Johnson warned a third wave of Covid-19 cases being seen in France and Italy could “wash up on our shores as well”.

He will face lockdown-sceptics on the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs in an attempt to quell unease over his plan to ease restrictions ahead of a Commons vote later this week.

But they are likely to be further angered by proposals to legally require care home workers to be vaccinated, and for foreign holidays to continue being outlawed until at least June 30.

Ahead of a minute’s silence at midday, Mr Johnson praised those who developed and rolled out vaccines, parents who homeschooled their children and the public who endured social distancing.

“It’s because of every person in this country that lives have been saved, our NHS was protected, and we have started on our cautious road to easing restrictions once and for all,” he said in a statement.

But on Monday, he highlighted the precariousness of the situation, warning of a fresh wave of infections in Europe, adding “experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well”.

Grieving Covid families criticise PM after meeting with Nicola Sturgeon

Relatives of people who died with coronavirus have criticised Boris Johnson for “refusing” to meet them after Nicola Sturgeon promised them a role in a public inquiry.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign met with the First Minister of Scotland on Monday.

They said she told them the Scottish Government would push for a four-nations approach to a statutory inquiry into the pandemic, but would proceed alone if this is not possible.

The campaigners said they were told families would be involved in setting the terms of the inquiry and praised Ms Sturgeon for showing empathy.

But they criticised Mr Johnson, saying they had written to his government six times seeking a meeting but had been refused.

Alan Wightman, who lost his mother Helen, 88, to the virus in May last year, said he was grateful the First Minister had agreed to meet and that the commitment to an inquiry “means a great deal to the thousands of us who have lost loved ones over the past year”.

He added: “If any good is to come out of this period, it’s that lessons are learned so that we can save lives in future.”

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