Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out closing border with England
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Nicola Sturgeon told employers that if they had staff working from home at the start of the pandemic they should enable them to do so again until the middle of January. Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP leader said there has been more than a tenfold increase in Omicron cases over the last week. A total of 28 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number to 99.
She said: “To be blunt, if you had staff working from home at the start of the pandemic please now enable them to do so again.
“I know this is difficult, but I cannot stress enough how much difference we think this could make in helping stem transmission and avoid the need for even more onerous measures.
She also urged Scots to follow rules around testing and self-isolation should they have symptoms, as well as regular lateral flow testing.
“I am not excluding myself from this,” she said.
“I am currently doing a test every morning before coming to work and I will do a test on any occasion I mix with others over the festive period.
“I will ask anyone visiting my home over Christmas to do likewise.”
Ms Sturgeon also urged MSPs to “lead by example” on testing.
But in response to Ms Sturgeon extending Scotland’s work-from-home guidance until mid-January, Downing Street said “that’s not our position”.
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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said “we are obviously looking at incoming data on the Omicron variant” but “our position remains as set out, with the limited number of restrictions we have introduced so far”.
Asked whether it was a proportionate response, the spokesman said: “It’s entirely in their gift, as has always been the case for devolved administrations, to make a judgment on what they believe is best.”
It comes as empty roads and cleaner air at the start of the pandemic have given way to a gradual return of traffic congestion in many global cities, but US and UK downtown centers remain less busy as office workers continue to work from home, according to a study published on Tuesday.
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Trips to US downtown areas were 22 percent below pre-pandemic levels, and down as much as 49% in San Francisco, where many tech workers continue to work remotely, a 2021 traffic study https://inrix.com/scorecard of more than 1,000 cities by transportation analytics firm INRIX Inc showed.
Downtown trips in the UK remain 19 percent below pre-pandemic levels, but are back to pre-COVID strength in Germany, likely a result of fewer Germans working from home, said Bob Pishue, INRIX transportation analyst and author of the study.
“In the US, we don’t expect congestion to go back to the way it was before for a while, at least through 2022,” he said.
While the average London driver lost 148 hours in traffic this year – the most of any city dweller and roughly the same as pre-pandemic – the average US city driver lost 36 hours in traffic, a nearly 43 percent decrease from pre-pandemic levels.
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