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Nicola Sturgeon announces roadmap out of lockdown

Today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a strategic framework which aims to slowly lift lockdown restrictions in order to reopen the economy by April 26.

Sturgeon said that the success of vaccination efforts meant the next few months looked “extremely positive and promising” but stressed the “need to exercise care and caution” when lifting restrictions.

More specific details are expected to be announced in mid-March, after the impact of the initial return to schools has been analysed.

Presently, the R number is just under one, but officials warn that this could rise again if restrictions are lifted too quickly.

In Scotland, the decline in case numbers has been slowing, which has been partly attributed to the growing prevalence of new, more infectious variants of Covid-19.

The lifting of restrictions began yesterday, with P1 to P3 returning to school.

University students on courses with practical elements have also been allowed to return, with a maximum of 5 per cent of the student population back on campus.

From March 15th, all primary school and some senior school students can hope to be back in the classroom. 

Four people from two households will be able to meet outdoors and outdoor, non-contact sports for 12 to 17 year olds will be allowed.

It is hoped that by April 5th, the stay-at-home order will be lifted, and all pupils will be back at school.

Communal worship will be allowed by then, with the first minister stating there will be some flexibility to meet dates for religious festivals such as Passover and Easter.

Rules on meeting outside will be relaxed further, with six people from up to two households able to meet outside from this date and some non-essential retail outlets allowed to open.

By the last week of April, the aim is to allow non-essential retail, the hospitality sector, gyms and hairdressers to open their doors. 

It is also hoped that Scotland can return to the levels system, with areas initially moving into level 3, although there may be some revision to the details of each tier. 

This would allow for different parts of Scotland to ease out of lockdown measures at different speeds.

Scotland follows a similar path as England and Wales, with outdoor meetings being allowed slightly earlier, but a later opening of retail.

The First Minister expressed her concern about vaccination passports but did not exclude them entirely and said it may be needed for some purposes such as travel, where restrictions are expected to stay in place for some time due to the threat of new variants of the virus.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservatives Holyrood leader called the route map a “holding document” and expressed her concern about how the statement failed to address when measures such as social distancing will end.

Image: via pressreleases.scielo.org