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Here’s what Nicola Sturgeon said at COP26 briefing – including Covid update

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Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Professor Jason Leitch and Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone to give an update ahead of COP26. 

During Tuesday’s Covid update to Parliament, the first minister warned that Covid hospitalisations were rising, with more cases among the older population. 

Amid warnings that case numbers could surge following the climate conference, which will see over tens of thousands of people flock to the city, today the first minister outlined how the government aimed to protect both citizens and those visiting. 


Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged that the summit would bring a certain level of disruption, due to the extremely high profile nature of the event. 

Here’s what we learned from the update today…

1. Avoid unnecessary trips during the first few days of COP26 if possible

The first minister encourgaged people to avoid travelling across Glasgow and the central belt where possible, particularly in the first few days of COP26. 

She said that this did not only apply to road travel, but also by rail, following the news that ScotRail workers will no longer be striking during the conference. 

If travel is necessary, the government advise planning journeys carefully. 

2. Certain dates expected to be particularly busy

According to the first minister, the first Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of COP26 will be particularly busy as world leaders come together. 

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Next Friday and Saturday will see large scale protests across the city, with Saturday’s event expected to see up to 100,000 people march from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green. 

3. Measures taken to try to reduce Covid transmission

Scottish government doing everything they can to mitigate the spread of Covid, according to the first minister. 

Explainging that she understood why people may be wary, Nicola Sturgeon said that the government was working with the UN to try and minimise a surge in Covid following the conference. 

4. Disruption experienced “for a purpose”

The first minister acknowledged the disruption to the people of Glasgow, and thanked residents for their patience. 

She added that the disruption was “for a purpose” with COP26 focussed on minimising global warming and climate change in the future. 

5. Clear message to those intent on actually disruption the conference

Police chief Iain Livingstone acknoweldged that the UN was encourgaing people to make their voices heard during the conference, and endorsed this message.

However, he added that swift action would be taken against those intent on actually disrupting the Covid conference. 

Police Scotland said that physical interference would be required where protesters were preventing the conference from going ahead. 

6. Be even more careful during COP26

Jason Leitch encouraged people to continue following the remaining Covid rules in Scotland, and urged people to be even more careful over the coming weeks. 

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When asked how emergency services will cope with the added demand and the navigation of protests, Jason Leitch said there was a “many layered” approach. 

He added that Scotland was “ready” and the health service was “prepared” for COP26. 

7. Nicola Sturgeon to co-host event with Boris Johnson

The first minister confirmed she would co-host an event on Tuesday afternoon with UK prime minister Boris Johnson. 

She also added that while the Scottish government and British government had some big differences, they would work hard to come to the best outcome for the world over the coming days.  

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