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Coronavirus briefing: First vaccine doses to be completed by July 18 in Scotland, Sturgeon urges Tartan Army to be cautious

© Andy Buchanan/PA WireFirst minister Nicola Sturgeon
First minister Nicola Sturgeon

All first doses of the coronavirus vaccine should be in Scots’ arms by July 18, Nicola Sturgeon has said, adding everyone should be fully vaccinated by mid-September.

The Scottish Government initially planned to offer first doses to all adults by the end of July, but that looks set to be achieved by the end of next week.

Speaking at a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Friday, the first minister set July 18 as the new date for the first round of vaccinations to be complete.

She added: “Vaccines are the way back to normality – I think we are increasingly confident of that.

“Quite literally every single one of us who gets these jabs is representing a step back towards normal life.”

When asked what is now the likely date for the completion of second doses, the first minister said: “Eight weeks from that takes us to mid-September, which is when we would hope that we will be on track to complete second doses.

“The caveat I’ve got to put in there is that is dependent on us having the supply to do that – but we are wanting to give second doses eight weeks after first doses.

“So if we’re going to complete first doses by the middle of July then eight weeks after that is when – all things permitting – we would hope thereabouts to be completing second doses as well.”

While she said she expects restrictions to be further eased over the summer, no changes will be made next week – an assertion she also made on Tuesday in Holyrood.

“It is unlikely – although I will confirm this in Parliament next Tuesday – but it is unlikely that we will move any part of the country down a level at the next review point,” she said.

Most of the central belt and cities including Stirling and Dundee are currently in Level 2 of the Scottish Government’s five tiers of restrictions.

Other parts of the country are in Level 1 and many of the islands are in Level 0.

Announcing the daily figures, Sturgeon said two Covid deaths have been recorded along with 950 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The first minister also announced that non-essential travel from Scotland to Manchester and Salford will be banned from Monday.

Due to “high levels of Covid”, the cities have been added to a list that already includes Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.

“Anyone travelling elsewhere in the Greater Manchester or Lancashire area, I’d ask to think carefully about whether your journey is really necessary, because we do see cases rising across that region,” the first minister said.

Meanwhile, bans on non-essential travel to the English town of Bedford and the Republic of Ireland will be removed.

Legislation to extend some emergency coronavirus powers for at least another six months will be introduced at Holyrood on Friday, Sturgeon added.

The Coronavirus (Extensions and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill was announced by Covid Recovery Secretary John Swinney earlier this month, and the first minister told the coronavirus briefing on Friday that continuing measures will include eviction protections and how Scotland’s courts work.

But the legislation, the first minister said, will remove some curbs on marriages and civil partnerships, due to the return to closer to normal working in registry offices.

“The legislation therefore recognises that although we are in that journey back to normality and therefore some measures are no longer needed, we are not quite there yet, so we need to keep some of these in place for a bit longer,” she said.

Sturgeon also said that coronavirus is not a fan of Scotland or England and therefore she urged fans to be cautious during Friday night’s crunch Euro 2020 match between the two sides at Wembley.

The first minister urged those in London, as well as fans watching from home, to take care and adhere to the Covid rules – particularly for those gathering in someone’s house.

“Remember to take the basic precautions, keep the windows open, wash your hands regularly and please be especially careful around people who are not yet fully vaccinated or who might be more vulnerable,” she said.

“And be careful if, or hopefully when, Scotland score some goals.”

She added: “I know these precautions are tiresome for everybody in every context and they’re particularly tiresome when people are trying to enjoy the normal pleasures of a football match.

“But this virus, it doesn’t care about football – it’s not a Scotland fan or an England fan, it only cares about spreading from one person to another.”