Scotland First In UK To Ban Mass Gatherings of 500 People or more from next week

 Scotland First In UK To Ban Mass Gatherings of 500 People as First Minister Takes Action 

Scotland will ban mass gatherings of at least 500 attendees from next week as part of new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.
It comes as the UK government is set to trigger the ‘delay’ phase of its plan to fight the spread of the virus, which will introduce stricter measures. Currently there are 36 confirmed cases and no deaths in Scotland, while there are 459 positive diagnoses in the UK in total.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would be ‘inappropriate to continue as normal’ as the pandemic continues to grow throughout Europe and announced the move will come into effect from Monday to ‘protect the resilience’ of front-line healthcare workers. However, Ms Sturgeon said she expects a ‘sharp rise in cases’ which will be confirmed at 2pm during the daily announcement.
‘We may also see further evidence of community transmission of coronavirus that underlines the seriousness of the situation we are all facing,’ said Ms Sturgeon during Thursday’s FMQs.

Speaking ahead of an emergency Cobra meeting held by Boris Johnson with other UK leaders this afternoon, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘Mass gatherings are required to be policed, they require to have emergency ambulance cover, they require the services of our voluntary health services, and at a time when we need to be reducing the pressures on these front-line workers in order to free them up on the significant challenge that lies ahead, I do think it is inappropriate that we continue as normal.’
Ms Sturgeon added: ‘Our emergency services are likely to suffer from higher than normal sickness absence rates in the weeks and months ahead and our NHS in particular will be under significant pressure. It’s important we protect that resilience as much as possible. ‘The safety and wellbeing of our NHS staff is vital at all times but given what they are facing now, it is particularly important.’

Ms Sturgeon said that a decision on whether to close schools has not yet been made, as teachers across the UK say they have been told to start putting together home-learning packs in preparation for a potential month-long school lockdown. However, she said the Scottish government ‘will continue to take decisions in collaboration with the other nations of the UK around issues like schools in the future, but driven very much by the scientific advice’.

The Republic of Ireland also banned mass gatherings of more than 100 people, and outdoor meetings of more than 500 will be cancelled.
Irish premier Leo Varadkar announced all schools, colleges and childcare facilities would close until March 29. Ireland recorded its first fatality from Covid-19 yesterday and has 34 confirmed cases.

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