SCOTLAND could put local lockdowns in place to deal with the coronavirus crisis if public health advice says that is the right thing to do, the deputy first minister has suggested.

John Swinney said ministers will be "mindful and aware of the need to take measures at local level".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said his test-and-trace programme will use "whack-a-mole tactics" to target outbreaks in specific areas. 

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Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, has not ruled out taking a "regionally varied approach". 

Giving evidence to Holyrood's Covid-19 committee, Mr Swinney was asked about the possibility of local lockdowns by Liberal Democrat MSP Beatrice Wishart.

He said: "There is the possibility, of course, that there can be the development of a particular intense local cluster. 

"And in those circumstances we would take public health advice as we would do in any circumstance about what are the right measures to take to try to control that.

"We're not being prescriptive about that, we're simply reinforcing what is an existing part of our public health approach within Scotland, which is to be mindful and aware of the need to take measures at local level where there may be an outbreak of a particular problem, and to require certain steps to be taken in individual localities. 

"So that will reflect the circumstances that we face and the public health advice that emerges given the nature of any outbreak or cluster that may emerge within any individual locality."

Mr Swinney said ministers would follow the guidance from public health advisers. 

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He added: "But I stress, if people follow the general rules on physical distancing, on cough etiquette, on self-isolation with symptoms, and as we pursue the contact tracing approach, we have many opportunities to try to suppress any further development of the virus and to ensure that we don't have to take any of the further measures that Beatrice Wishart is raising with me, to avoid what I would accept would be wider community disruption which is obviously something we are now trying to relax, which is a widely shared objective."

Ms Sturgeon's four-stage route map out of the coronavirus lockdown makes refence to local variations in the third phase, when pubs, restaurants, cinemas, museums and libraries can all reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

It says: "The virus will have been suppressed and Test and Protect working across Scotland means we will understand where any additional local measures might be required."