Scotland’s phased and careful approach to easing lockdown restrictions while continuing to suppress Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been outlined by the First Minister.
The updated Strategic Framework sets out the six tools the Scottish Government will use to restore, on a phased basis, greater normality to our everyday lives.
The immediate priority will continue to be the phased return of education, building on the return of some pupils to school yesterday. On the basis that progress in suppressing the virus and vaccinating key groups remains on track restrictions would be eased in the following order:
There is likely to be a gap of at least three weeks between each easing of restrictions to assess the impact of changes, and to check that it is safe to proceed further using the six conditions for safe easing set out by the World Health Organisation.
As the vaccination programme progresses, a return to more variable levels of restrictions, which can vary by location, is likely when it is safe to do so.
Ongoing financial support is set out in the Framework and will continue to be available to businesses as we emerge from lockdown. This includes the ongoing commitment to fund the Strategic Framework Business Fund and to provide Level 4 payments for an additional month once businesses are moved down a level. These proposals are contingent on receipt of additional consequentials from the UK Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“I know how hard current restrictions are after 11 long months of this pandemic, however they are working and we can now see our way out of them. We are in a far better position now than at the start of January and these measures are initial steps on a slow, but hopefully steady, route back to much greater normality.
“Our intent remains to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible.
“At the moment, and for a bit longer, we need to rely very heavily on restrictions to suppress the virus. This is essential when the virus is so transmissible, and when case numbers are still quite high.
“In time though - once the vast majority of the adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine - we hope that vaccination will become our main tool for suppressing the virus.
“The Strategic Framework is deliberately cautious at this stage but in the coming weeks, if the data allows and positive trends continue, we will seek to accelerate the easing of restrictions.”
The Scottish Government’s priority is to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible. There are six main tools for achieving this:
The six conditions for safe easing set out by the World Health Organisation are:
In summary, the Strategic Framework Update explained the phased system: