Speaking today on Good Morning Scotland, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer said that the roadmap out of lockdown is not looking past April because we now have a new variant “which we know is much more transmittable” than the virus we were dealing with before.
He said: “We don't want to tip that balance in its favour and allow more contact which will increase the rate of transmission.”
For this reason, he said that while “we clearly can’t stay in lockdown indefinitely”, it is very important that we “plot our way out very cautiously and safely”.
He added that we have got "this wonderfully encouraging news of the vaccine programme" but that the process of easing restrictions is a still "precarious" one.
While the recent dip in vaccine supplies was expected, Dr Smith said that he anticipates the number of vaccines available will begin to rise again over the next couple weeks as the supply pipelines are reestablished.
When asked why all school pupils were not set to return to school, he reaffirmed the cautious approach to the easing of restrictions being the key factor.
He said the government recognises how vital it is to "allow children back to face to face learning as quickly as possible" as there are "huge benefits" to being back in the classroom both socially and educationally.
He said that evidence shows that there is less risk of transmission amongst young pupils so it is necessary to monitor the impact their return has before rushing into the next phase.
He also had a similar answer to why all areas in Scotland would be placed into level 4 at the end of April.
He said: “From experience, we know how rapidly the virus can take hold, even in more rural areas, which is why the cautious approach is necessary”.
He said that the Government will continue to "keep a close eye on all the geography of Scotland and the data that comes from each area".