Nicola Sturgeon to reveal Scotland’s ‘gradual process’ for lifting the lockdown
Nicola Sturgeon will reveal today how Scotland could begin the “gradual process” of easing coronavirus restrictions.
While other parts of the UK have already started to loosen the lockdown, which was introduced back in March, the Scottish Government has so far taken a more cautious approach.
The First Minister however will outline to MSPs a four-phase plan for moving out of the current state of lockdown.
Ms Sturgeon has already said restrictions could start to be eased from May 28, when the lockdown is next due for review – but only if measures to suppress Covid-19 continue to be successful.
Figures published on Wednesday showed Scotland’s weekly coronavirus death toll had fallen for the third week in a row, with National Records of Scotland revealing there were 332 deaths relating to the disease registered between May 11-17.
Speaking about the future lifting of restrictions, the First Minister stressed: “This will be a very gradual process as we monitor how changing behaviour affects the infection rate and we will only be able to move toward easing more restrictions if we continue to work together to suppress the virus.”
She added: “Protecting lives will continue to be our number one priority – and I am confident that people across Scotland will continue to pull together in this national endeavour as we return to some kind of normality.”
Progress throughout this route map out of lockdown will be assessed every three weeks – with the Scottish Government clear that the current advice to people is to stay at home, with only essential journeys permitted.
The First Minister will reveal more details of her plan in a statement to Holyrood at lunchtime, before being questioned by opposition leaders and backbench MSPs.
Speaking ahead of that, she praised the “enormous sacrifices made by people and businesses across Scotland” – saying these had had “a real impact on the spread of Covid-19”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I would like to thank everybody who has helped to protect themselves, each other and our health and care services.
“For the time being the advice on staying at home except for essential purposes remains the same, but we hope to shortly be ready to start easing the lockdown restrictions and today’s route map will outline how we can do that.
“At all stages in this process, we have listened to the views of people and organisations in Scotland, and have been guided by the latest scientific advice – and that approach will continue going forward.”
She said the route map the Scottish Government was publishing was based on guidance set out by the World Health Organisation, as well as the experience of other countries as they have eased their lockdown, combined with “what we have learned about the impact of Covid-19 in Scotland”.