The number of Covid-19 infections in Dundee has more than doubled in the past fortnight – with the city council vowing to do “all it can” to support residents through another lockdown.
The Scottish Government has announced a raft of changes to restrictions across Scotland similar to last spring’s initial lockdown in a bid to combat a new strain of Covid-19.
Advice is now for all residents to stay at home and only to leave for essential purposes such as shopping, exercise or work which cannot be done from home.
In Dundee, council leader John Alexander said the local authority will provide as much support as it can in the weeks ahead as he revealed the worrying local infection rate.
He said: “This is clearly an alarming situation for everyone and not a position that we want to be in.
“However, the significant and accelerating infection rates require immediate actions.
“Dundee’s rate per 100,000 people now stands at 366, more than double where we were just a couple of weeks ago.
“I know these restrictions are causing stress and strain and the council will continue to do all that it can to support the city.”
New lockdown measures came into effect at midnight on Tuesday and will remain in place until the end of January at the earliest.
Dundee has operated in Levels 2, 3 and 4 in recent weeks, with the new Stay At Home restrictions tightening the freedom of residents further.
Busker Steven Low, 41, was performing on the streets of the city on Monday and said he, along with other live musicians in Dundee, will feel the effects of another lockdown.
He said: “As a busker it does mean there are going to be a lot less people out on the street.
“It will impact me and all the other live musicians but if it’s to save lives then it has to be done.
“I’m glad that at least supermarkets will be open and folk will be able to go out a bit for exercise.
“I’m obviously not the one to decide these things and if the government says it needs to be done then we’ll just have to follow the rules.”
Chef Ewan Clark, 56, voiced frustration at apparent rule breakers, who he believes have played a part in the surging infection rates.
He said: “If people had kept their heads down earlier and been more responsible we would be through this by now.
“I think it’s despicable because there’s people with no income, nothing, and folk are still willing to break the rules.”
Schools to remain closed until end of January
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced schools will remain closed until the end of the month. This will be reviewed in mid-January.
There has been a mixed reaction to the blended learning approach, with senior pupils among those who raised concerns about the effectiveness of home learning.
Brooke Barr, who is in her final year at Carnoustie High School, said: “From speaking to young people I know they are concerned a lot more about how effective online will be as it wasn’t during the first lockdown.
“Pupils sitting national courses are concerned about how this will affect their qualifications.
“They are not sure they learn as well at home as they would at school.
“Pupils are worried this will impact their chance to get into a higher education course at university or college.”
Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, also expressed concern that children living in poverty will be impacted most by the closure of schools.
He said: “Teachers, parents and carers have done great work over the last 10 months to support home learning, but much more support is needed.
“The experience of students is mixed, with those experiencing poverty most badly affected.
“Education is not just about academic achievement, but about developing personalities, talents, and abilities of children to their greatest potential.
“It is essential to address health, including mental health, social, educational, economic and recreational impacts.”
Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, welcomed the closure of schools, citing the mounting concern over the level of infection across the country.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “There was already heightened concern from teachers in Level 4 areas around school safety and the surge in infection levels, driven by the new variant, will have compounded those concerns – especially as it seems clear children can be as easily infected as anyone by the new strain, with subsequent transmission also occurring.
“Given that social distancing among pupils is physically impossible in crowded classrooms, moving to remote learning is the correct decision, therefore, if we are to successfully drive down community infection levels.
“Suppressing the virus is key to school buildings safely reopening.”
However, Mr Flanagan echoed the call for all pupils to have equal access to online learning.