The Scottish Government is to introduce further coronavirus restrictions in a bid to cut the number of journeys people are making during the current lockdown, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has confirmed.
He said there is “no doubt” people’s movements have increased compared to the initial lockdown last March.
The situation has been discussed by the Scottish Cabinet, he said, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set to reveal the outcome of those talks in a statement to MSPs later on Wednesday.
That will come before First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood – with speculation that Ms Sturgeon could move to further restrict takeaways and click and collect services.
Speaking ahead of her statement, Mr Matheson said there is an “element of concern” about the number of journeys people are making.
Scots are being told to stay at home as much as possible and only leave for essential purposes – such as food shopping, medical appointments or work that cannot be done from home.
Mr Matheson said there had been a “marked decline in traffic overall” since tougher restrictions came into force across the Scottish mainland on Boxing Day.
But he added traffic levels are still “slightly above what they were in the lockdown last year”.
He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that Ms Sturgeon will outline measures to “reduce that yet further”.
Mr Matheson urged businesses to play their part in the effort to suppress coronavirus by ensuring staff work from home where they can.
His comments came as the number of Scots in hospital rose again on Tuesday to stand at 1,717 – another record high and more than was recorded at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.
Mr Matheson said: “It is absolutely critical if you are a business that had most of your staff, if not all of your staff, working from home in the lockdown earlier last year then that should be happening now during the course of the present lockdown arrangements.
“I think there is an element that some businesses are continuing to operate because they have put mitigation measures in place and they believe they can still have staff coming into office spaces and workplaces in a way that we don’t believe is appropriate.
“It is absolutely critical that businesses that had their staff working from home during the previous lockdown have them working from home in the present lockdown and in doing that they can help to support us in suppressing the virus and protecting the NHS.
“The First Minister is going to set out some measures in her statement to Parliament later on today, but we all have a collective responsibility to make sure we are doing everything we can to meet what is the biggest challenge we have faced during the course of this pandemic.
“Given the pressures our National Health Service is currently experiencing due to the number of patients that are now in hospital as a result of Covid-19, businesses have an important role to play to support us in doing that.”
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