Sturgeon: ‘I would prefer to get to one metre’ social distance

First minister addresses social distancing and financial support in industry call

Nicola Sturgeon spoke with the Scottish Tourism Alliance on Thursday (June 11)

SCOTLAND’S first minister has said that she “would prefer” a one-metre social distance in Scotland but only if the scientific evidence and advice supports it.

In a call with the Scottish Tourism Alliance yesterday (June 11), Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will move away from the current two-metre guidance, as urged by hospitality and tourism trade groups, when scientific advisors indicate it is safe. She stressed that the Scottish Government is “looking at evidence on an ongoing basis”.

“I would prefer to get to one metre if the evidence and advice points in that direction,” said Sturgeon.

“Right now, it does not.

“There are no absolutes in this. There are transmission risks at two metres, but these are less than they are at one metre. And the shorter the distance, the more other mitigating factors like face coverings may be needed.

“Some of the emerging evidence about how the virus transmits is looking at clusters or superspreader situations.

“For argument’s sake, a pub would benefit practically from one metre but if the evidence tells us that this type of environment may pose a greater risk, that has to be considered.

“We’re not sticking to two metres just for the sake of it. Everything has a reason and we will move as quickly away from these situations as is safe to do.

“Scientists who advise us are saying don’t change the rule at the moment – they’re not necessarily saying never change the rule.

“The book on this is not closed and we will continue to consider this carefully. I have to be satisfied about the balance of risk and satisfied that the risk we are taking is not unacceptably high.”

When asked by the STA about further financial support for tourism and hospitality businesses, Sturgeon responded that the Scottish Government is “ looking very closely at our own budgetary position and looking across all of our spending lines to see where we can support businesses more”.

“If we are going to do significantly more, that will need to be part of a package which is agreed by the UK Government,” she said.

“The further into this we go, there are sectors we know that are harder hit and tourism and hospitality are in there and there needs to be consideration for bespoke support for the sector.

“We are making the case for this to the UK government and considering all of this in our own spending.”

She asked the STA to have “regular discussions” with her moving forward.