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Boris Johnson announces new restrictions to tackle Covid in England as Scots wait to hear changes from Nicola Sturgeon

By Scott Maclennan

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that new restrictions will be in place from Thursday to stem the rising tide of infections.

The announcement came as Scotland waited to find out how First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the cabinet would respond to the increasing number of cases.

The new restrictions in England could last as long as six months and primarily affect hospitality, where pubs and restaurants would have to be closed by 10pm.

Mr Johnson warned of the country entering a "perilous time" but said that universities, colleges and schools would be exempt from the new restrictions for the time being.

The Prime Minister warned that "more fire power" could be introduced if behaviour does not change and the number of cases continue to rise.

Calls by the SNP's Westminster leader and the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford to extend the furlough scheme in light of the new measures were rebuffed this afternoon in Parliament by the PM.

Mr Blackford said: "There is nothing inevitable about the exponential spread of this virus, if we act decisively, if we move sharply and if we take the right tough decisions now then we can get the virus back under control and we can minimise the time we all spend under new restrictions.

"Today, governments across the four nations are rightly asking for more sacrifices from their citizens to protect our collective health. In return for these sacrifices it is only right that citizens are provided with financial support amid the health and economic uncertainty.

"France, Germany and Ireland have already extended their furlough schemes into next year. The Prime Minister changed his mind on working from home this morning. It is not time to change his mind on furlough as well?

"Prime Minister, do not throw workers on the scrap heap through no fault of their own."

But Mr Johnson said: "Our objective is to keep businesses going and keep the economy moving as much as we can and allow people to work when they must.

"Of course, we will continue to support businesses and we will support people who have faced challenges throughout our United Kingdom.

"In Scotland, the Barnett consequentials are now over £5 billion and we will continue to send that support to the whole of the UK and to put our arms around the whole of the workforce of the UK.

"But what we want is to see businesses continuing and jobs being created."

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