Ms Sturgeon said that she understands everyone’s desire to get to “freedom” as quickly as possible – particularly in light of the news coming from England this week – but that Covid-19 is going to be around for some and they cannot “throw caution to the wind” when easing restrictions.
The First Minister is due to confirm next Tuesday whether the country will continue on the Scottish Government’s timetable for easing restrictions and move to Level 0 from July 19.
Ms Sturgeon said: “A move to Level 0 doesn’t mean the immediate end of all restrictions.
"Many of the baseline measures we use, things like face coverings, physical distancing, regular hand hygiene, advising on good ventilation, these are going to continue to be important mitigations in protecting ourselves and others, perhaps for some time.”
She went on to say that the virus is still potentially dangerous because experts don’t yet fully understand the long term health impacts of Covid-19, adding that the increasing pressure on the NHS means now more than ever is a time for “caution and care”.
A spike in cases in recent weeks had prompted questions over whether Ms Sturgeon would go ahead with the move down to Level 0 later this month, however today she said that the latest data shows that the recent surge in cases may be “levelling off” now.
She said she “very much hopes” that they will be able to move forward on July 19 as planned, adding the slowing down in case numbers gives her more “cause for more optimism” than she had a week ago.
Today’s update follows the news that two more hospitals – Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin – are operating at “code black” status.
Raigmore hospital in Inverness announced on Tuesday that it was facing ‘unprecedented’ demand amid rising Covid-19 cases and staff forced to self-isolate.