Nicola Sturgeon's phase two lockdown statement - in full
Thank you for the opportunity to report on the latest review of the Coronavirus lockdown regulations.
Firstly, I will summarise the progress we have made so far in tackling the virus.
I’ll then set out the careful changes we intend to make to the rules and guidance over the next three weeks, and when the various changes will take effect.
And finally, I’ll give details of further work we have commissioned to inform future decision-making.
Let me start, though, with my usual report on the daily statistics.
In doing so, I thank our health and care workers – indeed all key workers – for the extraordinary work they are doing in these incredibly testing circumstances.
As at nine o’clock this morning, there have been 18,077 positive cases confirmed – an increase of 11 from yesterday.
A total of 929 patients are in hospital with Covid-19. That represents a total change of 36 from yesterday, including an increase in the number of confirmed cases.
A total of 23 people last night were in intensive care with confirmed or suspected Covid 19. That is an increase of four since yesterday.
And unfortunately I also have to report that in the last 24 hours, two deaths have been registered of patients who have been confirmed through a test as having Covid-19 – that takes the total number of deaths in Scotland, under that measurement, to 2,464.
Those numbers – together with the figures published by National Records of Scotland yesterday – make clear the human cost of this virus.
That human cost has been devastating – and it should serve as a serious warning against any complacency as we move into the next phase of fighting what is a dangerous, and often deadly, virus.
However, the sustained decline in the number of people dying also demonstrates the progress we have made.
Yesterday’s NRS data showed that the number of Covid deaths last week was less than one ninth of the peak level. The number of people in intensive care has fallen by more than 90 per cent since the peak. And hospital admissions – which at one stage were 200 a day – are down to single figures each day.
The R number is currently below one and has been stable at between 0.6 and 0.9 for the last three weeks. And we estimate that the number of people who could be infectious with coronavirus in Scotland as of last Friday was 2,900. Three weeks ago our estimate – which has since been revised – was 19,000.
The progress we have made so far is therefore clear and substantial, and it has been made possible by the efforts and enormous sacrifices that people across Scotland have made. I am hugely grateful for all of that.
Taking account of that progress and the other evidence we are required to assess, I am therefore very pleased to confirm that the Scottish Government has concluded that we can now move into the next phase of our exit from lockdown. I will set out specifically what that means in a moment.
However, we must still exercise care and caution.
Our progress so far is because of lockdown. The virus has not gone away.
So as we gradually remove the restrictions that have kept it under control, there is a very real risk that transmission could rise again. That is why – if we don’t want to go backwards – we must progress carefully.
And I know that, in many ways, that actually requires more patience now than it did previously, when the danger of the virus was more obvious.
As we start to feel that the virus is receding, there will be a growing desire to move back to normality more quickly.
And we will feel frustrated at times, if that journey seems too slow. That is true for individuals – and also, I know, for business. The impact of this crisis on businesses, large and small, is colossal and we all want the economy to re-open as quickly as possible.
But if – as I believe is the case – frustration, leading to a premature easing of too many restrictions, is our biggest risk right now, it is equally true that patience could reap our biggest rewards.
If we can suppress the virus more – get as close as possible to eliminating it now – then we give ourselves a better chance, not just of controlling future outbreaks or clusters but of doing so through more targeted measures, rather than general, blanket restrictions on our way of life.
The alternative – which would happen if we moved too quickly – is the virus continuing to circulate at a higher level of transmission. The measures that are then needed to stop it running out of control are more restrictive and have to be applied more generally and for longer.
So, difficult though I know it is, the prize for going a bit more carefully now is a recovery that is much more sustainable – and one that will, I hope, allow more normality to be restored to our everyday lives.
That will be important in every aspect of life – but particularly vital for children getting back to normal, full-time schooling.
So this is why, though we are moving to phase two today, we are still being cautious and we are not going to do everything at once. We will take a staged approach to avoid bearing all of the risk at the same time.
In deciding when to implement each measure we have tried to reach a reasonable order of priority, and also to think about the various interdependencies – about how a decision in one area affects life in other areas.
All of that said, I readily acknowledge how difficult this is. There is no perfect route out of lockdown. All approaches have risks. What we are trying to do is manage and mitigate those risks as far as we can.
Because of this we have decided that during phase two we will continue to ask people as far as possible to stay within or close to their local area.
Our ambition is to be in a position to lift this limit in phase three and in time for the proposed resumption of tourism from 15 July.
But at this stage, for leisure and recreation purposes we are asking people not to travel more than five miles or so from their home – though that does not apply to meeting family and friends. And, of course, home-working should still be the norm whenever possible.
Asking people to abide by this guidance gives us greater confidence in making other changes during phase two.
So I want to take some time now to set out the most important of those changes, in the order in which they will happen. Details of all the changes that will be made in phase two and the timing of them will be available on the Scottish Government website.
The only change which will take effect immediately from today is in our guidance for people who are shielding – those most at risk from Covid-19 who have been advised up until now to stay inside completely.
I indicated last week my hope that from today anyone who is shielding, unless you live in a nursing or residential care home, would be able to go outdoors for exercise – for example for a walk, wheel or cycle. I am pleased to confirm this change today.
So if you have been shielding, and you planned to take some outdoors exercise today, you can go ahead.
However, our clinical advisers have made a further assessment of the evidence and I am pleased to say they have given the go-ahead to some additional changes to the guidance. To provide some advance notice of this we have decided that these additional changes will apply from tomorrow.
From tomorrow, our advice will be that shielding people can also take part in non-contact outdoor activities – such as golf.
In addition, the advice from tomorrow will be that people who are shielding can meet outdoors with people from one other household – but in groups of no more than eight.
However, if you are shielding, you should continue to be extremely cautious. That means staying at least two metres away from other people at all times, even if you live with the person you’re out with. Do not go inside someone else’s house or allow someone from another household to go inside yours, even to use the toilet. And when you go outside, choose times and areas that are quiet. And wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you get back home.
I know that the requirement to stay indoors at all times, without meeting up with anyone, has been incredibly tough for shielding people. I hope that this change to our advice – by allowing not just outdoor exercise but limited outdoor meetings – can provide a real improvement to your quality of life without significantly increasing the risks you face.
We will, of course, provide further guidance before 31 July, when the current shielding period is due to end.
Let me turn now to advice for the general population.
We are also making some limited changes – which will take effect from tomorrow – to the rules on social interaction for those who are not being asked to shield.
These rules currently state that one household can meet up with just one other household. These meetings must be outdoors and should involve no more than eight people, maintaining strict physical distancing of two metres.
From tomorrow, people from one household can meet outdoors with people from up to two other households. You can meet these two households together or separately and it doesn’t always have to be the same households – but it should be no more than two at a time and no more than two in a day. And we are still advising no more than eight in any group.
We will also change the guidance so that you can, if necessary, go indoors to use the toilet if you are meeting in the garden of another household.
I hope that these changes will make family meetings a bit more practical.
Please, however, remember that meetings must still be outdoors at this stage. With the one exception I will outline shortly, we still judge that the risk of mixed household gatherings indoors is too high.
And if you do go inside to use the toilet, please avoid touching surfaces, and immediately and thoroughly clean those you do touch. By doing that you will avoid creating a possible bridge for the virus to travel from one household to another.
Finally, when we consider what changes to make we are always mindful of the wider harms that come from the restrictions in place to tackle Covid.
One of those harms is loneliness and isolation, particularly for older people living alone and lone parents.
So from tomorrow we will change advice to allow anyone who lives on their own – or only with children under 18 – to form an ‘extended household group’ with one other household.
Within an extended household group, people will be able to meet indoors without physical distancing and stay overnight – though only if they wish.
But they must continue to see any other households outdoors only and stay more than two metres apart from them.
No member of such an extended household group should form a similar arrangement with any other household. And an extended household must not include anyone who is shielding.
Also, if one member of an extended household group gets the virus, all of the group will have to isolate – whether or not they are living in the same property.
I would also encourage those who choose to form extended households to pay particular attention to hygiene measures – to reduce the risk that one household will bring the virus into another.
This extended household change is not open-ended – though we will consider if and to what extent we can expand it over the next few weeks – and so I know it will not immediately make a difference for everyone.
But it will, from tomorrow, allow a grandparent who lives on their own to form a group with another household in their family. It will allow a single parent and their children to join with another household for support. And it will allow a non-cohabiting couple, where at least one of them lives alone, to be reunited indoors without physical distancing. It will, I hope, help to ease some of the isolation which is one of the cruellest consequences of tackling this virus.
Now, inevitably there are complexities involved in these changes – and there will be many questions about the detail, so you will find more information on the Scottish Government website.
However, with the best will in the world we cannot provide precise answers for every bespoke situation. So, when in doubt, use your judgement and err on the side of caution.
And if you worry that something you are thinking of doing risks spreading the virus, please don’t do it.
The various changes I have just outlined are the only ones that will take effect before this weekend.
Further changes will then come into effect on Monday 22 June.
For example, the construction sector will be able to move to the next phase of its restart plan, and then move through the remaining phases subject to ongoing consultation with government.
Dentists will be able to re-open, initially for urgent care.
Professional sport can resume, although – since strict public health restrictions remain in place – this will only be behind closed doors.
And places of worship will reopen – but for individual prayer only, not communal worship.
I know that during this crisis many will have drawn strength and comfort from their faith. But I also know that people of all faiths are missing the ability to gather together. I want to acknowledge that, and also thank the priests, ministers, rabbis, imams and many others who have worked so hard to keep in touch with faith groups.
The nature of this virus and how it spreads means that it may still be some time before large religious gatherings are permitted. However, I hope that the reopening of places of worship for individual prayer will be welcomed and that it can provide an additional source of comfort for many.
These changes are the main ones that will take effect from Monday.
However, in 11 days’ time, from Monday 29 June, some further phase two changes will take effect.
From then some indoor workplaces that have so far opted to remain closed, in line with guidance – such as factories, labs and warehouses – can start to re-open, but subject to strict physical distancing, hygiene and health and safety guidance.
Non-essential offices and call centres should remain closed at this stage.
Businesses able to re-open should use the period between now and 29 June to ensure that all physical distancing and safety measures are in place and to contact their staff to put in place staggered work times, agree flexible working where possible for those with childcare issues, and ensure that staff have a safe means of getting to work.
From 29 June, outdoor markets will also be able to reopen, as will outdoor playgrounds and outdoor sports courts.
Outdoor businesses such as zoos and garden attractions can also reopen from that date – although initially, until we can hopefully lift this restriction for phase three, people should not travel more than around five miles to visit them. Where these places are ticketed, tickets should be bought in advance.
Restrictions on moving house will also be lifted on 29 June.
In addition, registration offices will reopen, but only for essential business. And marriages and civil partnerships will be permitted, but only outdoors at this stage and with limited numbers.
Let me turn now to non-essential retail. The retail sector is a vital part of our economy. It is also a large and complex sector, and we want to support it to get back to work safely.
We said in the route map that we hoped to allow small shops to re-open in phase two, and we will.
But by waiting a bit longer, until midway through this phase, we can go a bit further – though still with some limitations.
So from 29 June retail premises of all sizes can re-open, but only if they have outdoor entrances and exits. I am afraid that for the time being, indoor shopping centres will remain closed, except for access to essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacists. However, indoor shopping centres should prepare to re-open in phase three as indicated in the route map.
For those shops that can re-open from 29 June, local authorities and retailers should use the period between now and then to ensure that plans for the responsible use of public space are in place – for example to manage queues, pedestrians and cyclists, ensure that unnecessary street furniture is removed, and that markings and guidance are in place to support strict physical distancing.
Shops must also ensure that appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures are in place.
And of course, all of us as customers have a role to play. When shops do re-open I ask everyone to exercise patience, stick to the measures that are in place for your safety and at all times please respect retail staff who will be asking you to shop in a different way.
Finally, there are some changes – especially in relation to health and other public services – which have already begun and which will build up over the coming weeks.
There will be a more significant re-opening of health services, consistent with our NHS Mobilisation Plan. More GP services will be available, and GP practices will make more visits to shielded patients. The health service more generally will resume more of the services which were postponed in March.
And as I said earlier, dentists will re-open from this Monday. In addition, optometry practices will reopen for emergency and essential services from Monday 29th.
We will also work with local authorities and others to resume some care services which were postponed.
And more generally, public services will be gradually and safely re-opening and scaling up.
To take just two examples, energy-efficiency schemes and visits to Housing First tenants will start to resume. And public transport will operate increased services during this period, albeit with constraints on capacity due to the need for continued physical distancing.
Those are the key specific measures which I can confirm at this stage. They represent a significant but careful change over the next three weeks as we continue to suppress the virus. And they should provide a firm basis for taking further steps in the future.
Another change that was envisaged in the route map for phase two was the re-opening of outdoor hospitality, such as beer gardens. Unfortunately, I am not able to give a date for that just yet.
We may be able to set a date later that is within phase two, but I have commissioned further advice from our Scientific Advisory Group to inform this decision.
There is emerging evidence that places such as pubs, restaurants and gyms can be hotspots for transmission. It is important that we better understand this evidence and what further mitigation might be necessary to protect people in such spaces before we permit them to open.
I appreciate this will be hard for the hospitality industry. I want to give an assurance to businesses in that sector that we will continue to support preparations for re-opening – for example by encouraging local authorities to facilitate the use of open outdoor spaces which pubs and restaurants can use for additional space.
I expect to have this further scientific advice in two weeks and I will set out then, hopefully on or around 2 July, whether outdoor hospitality can re-open during phase two – which I hope will be the case – or if further mitigations are required ahead of phase three.
I understand the desire of all businesses to reopen quickly. However, it is vital than when services and venues do reopen they do so safely and in a way that is consistent with continued suppression of the virus.
That is how we best avoid a resurgence of the virus that could lead to businesses having to close all over again.
On a related issue – although this also affects many areas, including education and public transport – I have also commissioned further advice from the Advisory Group on physical distancing requirements.
Let me be clear that the advice and evidence we have at this time supports physical distancing at two metres.
And we know that while there are no absolutes – and we should not see this in isolation – the shorter the distance, the greater the risk of transmission. So I will not change this guidance without rigorous consideration and appropriate assurance.
However, I have asked our advisers to consider whether there are particular settings and circumstances in which, with additional mitigations, it might be possible in future to recommend a distance of one or 1.5 metres.
I hope to also have this advice within two weeks and will report on it then.
But let me reiterate that, at this stage, the advice is unchanged – you should continue to maintain two metres distance from people in households other than your own.
Finally, I want to make some broader points about priorities for the future,
In the context of beating this virus and saving lives, there is no higher priority for me and this government than getting children back to full-time education. But it must be done safely.
So, as I set out yesterday, we will be working to ensure that contingency plans for blended learning, if and for as long as that is necessary, maximise the time children spend in school.
But we will also be working to create the conditions and put in place the protections that can get children back to school on both a full-time and normal basis as soon as possible.
Indeed, part of the reason I am taking a cautious approach to easing lockdown is to help do precisely that by suppressing the virus now as much we can.
We will work with councils to keep parents and young people fully updated in the period ahead.
We also understand the increasing pressures parents face in juggling childcare and work, so in the meantime we will continue to increase access to critical childcare for those who need it most, and we will work with employers to encourage maximum flexibility in working arrangements.
And while it is not the principle motivation for them, extended household groups now – and as we hopefully expand them in future – may help with informal childcare.
Another key issue is public transport. We want people to work from home whenever they can and to cycle or walk where possible. But as we open up more workplaces and public services, more people will use public transport.
We have for several weeks recommended that people should wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where physical distancing might not always be possible – such as on public transport and in shops.
That is because of the evidence that wearing face coverings can reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted.
If you have Covid, but maybe don’t realise it because you don’t have symptoms, a face covering reduces the risk of you passing the virus on to other people.
And other people wearing face coverings help to protect you in a similar way.
It is not an absolute safeguard – and physical distancing, hand-washing and good hygiene will always be more important in preventing transmission – but face coverings can help to reduce the risk of transmission, and that is important.
For that reason we have decided that from Monday face coverings will be mandatory on all public transport. That includes taxis and private hire cabs, as well as buses, trains, the Glasgow subway, Edinburgh trams, planes and enclosed areas on ferries
This will be subject to some exemptions – for example, for children under the age of five, people with breathing difficulties and those who have physical conditions which make it hard to keep the mask in place. It will also not apply to drivers who are already protected by a shield of some kind.
We believe that this measure will be increasingly important as use of public transport increases, and that implementing it now will help to reduce the risks of transmission and build public confidence.
We are consulting further over the next few days on whether face coverings should also be mandatory in shops and we will report back on this before non-essential retail opens on 29 June.
However, please do not wait for this – follow the strong advice now to wear face coverings in shops.
The measures we have set out today are proportionate and cautious, but they are also significant. They restart more of the economy, reopen more public services and allow us to see more of our family friends – they also lay the groundwork for further changes to come.
Crucially we consider that if everyone abides by the rules and follows the guidance – which is vital – these changes are consistent with the continued suppression of the virus that is so critical to a sustainable recovery.
Of course, the changes also mean that the overall message we will be communicating to the public must evolve too.
The willingness of all of us to “stay at home” has been fundamental to our progress so far. And I still encourage people to stay at home as much as possible.
However, as we are now permitted to go out more our overarching message must adapt.
So in this next phase, instead of asking you to ‘stay home, protect the NHS and save lives’, we will be asking you to ‘stay safe, protect others and save lives’.
This advice recognises that although the virus is being suppressed it has not gone away. It is still highly infectious. And it is still deadly to some and dangerous to many.
So we must continue to suppress it – and we all have a part to play. By sticking to the rules in each phase all of us can help to do that. We will keep ourselves safe, we will protect each other – which will also help protect the NHS – and we will save lives.
And we will ensure that all of us together can move more quickly and more safely to the next phase.
So please continue to stay two metres away from people in other households. With the exception of those who can form extended household groups, only meet with other households outdoors. Wear face coverings in enclosed spaces. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. If you have symptoms of Covid, get a test and self-isolate immediately.
You can book a test at nhsinform.scot or by phoning NHS 24 on 0800 028 2816.
And remember – in the weeks ahead, perhaps now more than ever, the decisions we take as individuals will affect the well-being of all of us.
If we all act in that spirit of solidarity and love for each other we will get and keep this virus under control and we will get our lives back to something that feels much more normal.
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