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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to set out lockdown exit plan this afternoon


By Jonathan Clark

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FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon will this afternoon set out the Scottish Government’s revised strategic framework and outline how the country will emerge from the current coronavirus lockdown.

The framework will detail how the Scottish Government will use and balance all the tools at its disposal – restrictions and advice, vaccination, test and protect, travel restrictions and support for businesses, organisations and individuals – to restore greater normality to Scotland.

The plans for easing lockdown will be driven by data rather than by hard and fast dates, with the priority continuing to be suppression of the virus.

However, the framework will set out an order of priority and proposed phases – with periods of at least three weeks between them – to gradually ease current level four restrictions and then return to the tier system used before Christmas.

The immediate priorities will continue to be the return of young people to education, followed by sports activities for young people and limited social interaction for adults.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We know we cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely and we must plan a gradual phased return to as much normality as possible.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“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 four.

“As we get to a situation where we can move back to a levels approach, with all or part of the country moving down a level, we can start to carefully open the economy again, too.

“The strategic framework sets out as far as possible at this stage how we will approach the gradual easing of restrictions.

"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."

Ms Sturgeon is set to lay out her plan to MSPs at Holyrood today at 2.15pm.


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