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Sturgeon extends lockdown but “optimistic” restrictions will ease in March

On Tuesday afternoon, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced to the Scottish parliament in Holyrood that, despite the nation’s progress in combating the crisis so far, lockdown restrictions will stay in place until “at least” the end of February. 

She revealed to MSPs that she was “cautiously optimistic” about the possibility of easing restrictions at the start of March. 

Nevertheless, tougher restrictions will still be introduced at Scottish borders. 

According to Ms Sturgeon the current measure – hotel quarantining for those coming from ‘high-risk’ countries –  “does not go far enough”. 

She has said: 

“I can therefore confirm today that we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from.”

Ms Sturgeon also announced that schools will begin a phased return from 22 February, following discussions with her cabinet:

“The judgment the cabinet arrived at this morning, based on the advice of our expert advisers, is that if we all agree to abide with the lockdown restrictions for a bit longer – so that our progress in suppressing the virus continues – we can begin a phased, albeit gradual, return to school from 22 February.”

Initially primary school years one to three and preschool years will return on a full time basis, with a part-time return for secondary school pupils that need to complete practical work for national qualifications. 

However, this progression is subject to the government’s review in two weeks, where the next phase for schools will be unveiled as well as a timescale for a return to in-person teaching for colleges and universities.  

While this announcement was a seemingly small step towards normality, Nicola Sturgeon explained that considering the current state of pandemic and number of daily cases, the country had to take the necessary precautions and be sensible in its approach to the virus.

On the same day as this announcement, the Scottish government has reported 758 new cases of COVID-19 and 69 new reported deaths of people who have tested positive. 

The Student will keep you up-to-date on government regulations and guidelines. 

For now, Ms Sturgeon has urged everyone to avoid non-essential travel and to stay at home. 

Image: Flickr