No summer holidays abroad this summer, civil servants warned

Lockdown rules will be in place "a little bit longer", Scotland's clinical adviser says
Photo: Jens Kalaene/DPA/PA Images

Booking a summer holiday abroad this year would be a bad idea, civil servants have been warned.

In a leaked internal video, Scotland’s top clinical adviser Jason Leitch said he would advise officials not to book non-refundable summer trips overseas until 2022.

In the video, which was published on the Scottish Government’s intranet and leaked to The Scotsman, Leitch said Scotland would come out of lockdown “very very slowly”.

“I wouldn’t book a non-refundable summer holiday if I were you,” he said. “I might book a holiday in the autumn or Christmas time but even then I’m not entirely sure what the world will look like in terms of freedom of movement.”

The existing measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, which in Scotland and the rest of the UK mean people should not leave their homes except for essential shopping, exercise or other a few other limited reasons, will be in effect for “a little bit longer”, Leitch said.

Leitch was appointed the Scottish Government’s national clinical director of healthcare quality and strategy in 2015 and has been involved in planning the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think we'll be in this version of lockdown for a little bit longer and then... we'll go out gradually but it'll be slow – very, very slow – because we've learned now twice we've learned how quickly it is to go up and how slow it is to come down,” he said.

Responding to civil servants’ questions about the pandemic, he added that it is likely Scotland will have to “learn what the post-Covid world looks like”. 

Leitch said ministers and officials, including Scotland’s chief medical officer Gregor Smith, were worried about “resetting the country's expectations” that a case rate of 1,500 a day was “a good thing”.

He said: "1,500 is not a good thing. It's awful and it has awful implications for those who get seriously unwell, so we need to drop that number further down.”

The video was published on Monday, the same day that first minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that the lockdown would remain in place “across mainland Scotland and some island communities until at least the middle of February”.

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