Covid: Nicola Sturgeon urges Boris Johnson to re-introduce furlough during Omicron crisis

NICOLA Sturgeon has requested an urgent meeting with Boris Johnson after appealing for him to put financial support in place for businesses struggling, due to the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant. 

The First Minister said she had written to the Prime Minister on Thursday morning asking for financial support to be made available as it was at the start of the pandemic, during a Covid update to the Scottish Parliament.

She said “such is the urgency” she has asked that she speak to him directly later today to avoid “sleeping walking into an emergency”. 

Ms Sturgeon confirmed there were 5951 cases reported in Scotland yesterday – 45.4% of were indicative of the Omicron S-Gene dropout.

READ MORE: Sturgeon urges Scots to ‘stay at home much more’ during Omicron plea

Ms Sturgeon said: “The fact is – business now needs the type and scale of financial support that was available earlier in the pandemic.

“However, there are simply no mechanisms available to the devolved administrations to trigger the finance needed to support such schemes. We need the UK government to act – urgently and in the way some other countries are already doing.

“I made this point again at a COBRA meeting yesterday, chaired by Michael Gove and attended by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. But this now needs the urgent engagement of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

“We must not sleepwalk into an emergency that, for both health and business, will be much greater as a result of inaction, than it will be if we act firmly and strongly now.

“I have therefore written to the Prime Minister this morning appealing to him to put the necessary support schemes in place. Such is the urgency, I have asked to speak to him directly later today.

“None of us want to be in this position but Omicron presents a renewed and very real challenge for the whole world. The World Health Organisation could not be clearer about that.”

HeraldScotland: Nicola Sturgeon delivering her Covid update yesterday

READ MORE: Sturgeon claims Scotland £48m ‘worse off’ after Treasury releases £220m for Covid fightback

On Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon announced a number of measures in an effort to curb the virus, including; limiting socialising to three households, new guidance for businesses and making working from home a legal requirement.

However, she criticised the UK Government in her key address to Parliament, claiming that due to a lack of funding she was unable to implement all the measures she would like for public health protection.

The treasury announced just moments before her speech that it was to give the Scottish Government £220m to help tackle the covid pandemic. 

However, the First Minister said the situation is “worse” than she previously thought, claiming Scotland will receive £48m less than it had planned as result of the measures.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon’s letter to Boris Johnson calling for furlough to be reinstated – in full

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