Nicola Sturgeon launches rival lockdown roadmap for Scotland vowing to be MORE cautious than Boris Johnson with regional ‘tiers’
- Nicola Sturgeon to set out lockdown exit strategy for Scotland this afternoon
- Immediate priorities for reopening will be education and more social interaction
- She has already confirmed that Scotland will return to geographic levels system
Nicola Sturgeon will today unveil her lockdown exit strategy for Scotland, promising that restrictions will be eased ‘carefully and gradually’.
The Scottish First Minister will set out her roadmap this afternoon, one day after Boris Johnson published his plan for England.
Ms Sturgeon has said Scotland’s path out of lockdown will not be identical to the UK Government’s but it will be ‘broadly similar’.
One major difference will be that Scotland will return to a system of geographic levels while England will exit lockdown as a whole and will not be going back to tiers.
Ms Sturgeon said overnight that Scotland ‘cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely and we must plan a gradual phased return to as much normality as possible’.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today unveil her lockdown exit strategy for Scotland
Ms Sturgeon’s plan is expected to be ‘broadly similar’ to the one Boris Johnson unveiled yesterday for England
The old levels system in Scotland was split into five different tiers, ranging from Level 0 to Level 4, with designations depending on things like case numbers and the rate of transmission.
Areas in Level 4 were subject to restrictions close to that of a full lockdown, with non-essential shops closed while six people from two households could meet outdoors.
Level 0 was as close to normal life as possible, with people allowed to meet indoors with eight people from three households and businesses allowed to open with safety measures in place.
Ms Sturgeon’s plan for loosening restrictions is expected to prioritise the return of children to education, sports activities for young people and limited social interaction for adults.
‘We know we cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely and we must plan a gradual phased return to as much normality as possible,’ she said.
‘The restrictions we have put in place are difficult for individuals, families and businesses across Scotland, but they are working – case numbers have decreased, the numbers of people in hospital and needing intensive care are coming down and we are now seeing fewer vulnerable people dying from this horrible illness.
‘This means we can begin to consider how, carefully and gradually, we can return to some normality in Scotland.
‘A limited number of children and young people were able to return to school yesterday and we have prioritised this because children’s education and wellbeing is such an overriding priority.
‘Of course, this has only been possible because people across Scotland have worked together and made sacrifices to bring down levels of Covid-19.
‘We hope that more children will be able to return to school later in March.
‘And we have published new guidance to enable an easing of restrictions on care home visiting from early March.
‘Beyond that, giving people the ability to meet loved ones, initially outdoors, is a priority for easing restrictions within the current level 4.’
Ms Sturgeon said the economy will be opened up when Scotland is able to ‘move back to a levels approach, with all or part of the country moving down a level’.
‘The strategic framework sets out as far as possible at this stage how we will approach the gradual easing of restrictions,’ she said.
‘We will be able to give more detail and clarity in the weeks ahead as we make further progress both on suppressing the virus and vaccinating the population, and as we understand more about the impact of vaccination.
‘However, to keep moving in the right direction and avoid setbacks caution will be necessary, which is why the framework will be clear about the need to move in a gradual way.’
The plan will set out an indicative order of priority and proposed phases – with periods of at least three weeks between them – to ease current Level 4 restrictions and then return to the geographic levels system.
Scotland’s route out of lockdown will not be identical to the UK Government’s, but will be ‘broadly similar’, Ms Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said the data for the nations is different, but the principles of easing restrictions will be the same.