Nicola Sturgeon clashes with journalist over Covid questions
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Political Editor Mike Blackley also levelled accusations from the hospitality sector at the First Minister over her implementing a “lockdown by stealth” amid a raft of measures brought in by Nicola Sturgeon to combat the spread of the Omicron variant. Ms Sturgeon has increasingly tightened restrictions over the past two weeks as she warned of a “tsunami of infections”.
Mr Blackley suggested the “£66 million” for businesses only amounts to a couple of thousand per-premises, which have been heavily impacted by a collapse in footfall over the Christmas period.
He added whether the figures were “really enough” before expressing his surprise that more money could not be found in the budget Ms Sturgeon is currently gunning for in the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Daily Mail’s political editor also questioned whether self-isolation requirements for hospitality sector staff could be “cut” in order to ease the pressure on the industry.
But the questions left Ms Sturgeon enraged as she hit back at the reporter, saying: “Yeah that would really help because that would spread infection even further and that would be not doing anything for businesses!”
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But she did not stop in her verbal attack, adding: “I don’t know if you have listened to a word I have said, Michael!”
Ms Sturgeon accepted that she did not think the budget for hospitality “is enough” but she insisted there was little she could do to solve the shortfall as borrowing powers are the remit of the Treasury and not her.
The First Minister stressed “every penny we now take” stems from such budget schemes from Westminster before laughing off the idea that she could extract money the Health service or education budgets.
She added how the Scottish Government have sourced an additional “£100 million” for self-isolation payments.
Omicron: Sturgeon urges Johnson to ‘do what’s necessary’
But she added that it was “unconscionable” that the Treasury do not provide Scotland with additional sums to tackle the economic issues sparked by Omicron.
She said: “They are borrowing it, if I had the borrowing powers the treasury had I would be able to do that.
“I don’t have those borrowing powers, I can only look to the Treasury to use them!”
The Omicron variant is now the dominant COVID variant in Scotland.
The spread has sparked Ms Sturgeon to order Scots to stay at home as much they can in the lead up to Christmas.
While she said no more than three households should be meeting up at one time.
Hospitality venues have been told to implement a raft of social distancing measures including queuing systems, mask wearing and screens to stop the spread of COVID.
4,336 new cases of Covid were reported in Scotland on Friday
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