Scotland roadmap out of lockdown: when will Nicola Sturgeon announce plans to end Scottish Covid restrictions?
The government’s lockdown exit plan will detail how coronavirus rules will be gradually eased
The Scottish Government is set to publish its roadmap out of lockdown next week.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Tuesday 16 February that a “revised strategic framework” for easing coronavirus restrictions was in progress.
It came as she announced some pupils would be permitted to go back to school from Monday 22 February, as part of a phased return.
So, when will the lockdown exit plan be published - and what might it include?
Here’s everything you need to know.
When will the roadmap out of lockdown be published?
Addressing Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon said the government’s roadmap out of lockdown would signal a return to “greater normality”.
She said people in Scotland could expect the new framework to detail how the country will “gradually” come out of lockdown.
The first minister said the plan for leaving lockdown would be published next week, probably on Tuesday 23 February, following discussions with opposition parties, businesses and trade unions.
"It will aim to set out how we will use and balance all the tools at our disposal - restrictions and advice, vaccination, test and protect, and travel restrictions - to restore, on a phased basis, greater normality to our everyday lives,” Ms Sturgeon said.
"It will set out as far as possible the conditions that need to be met, in terms of the data, for us to start lifting restrictions.”
When could Covid rules start to be eased?
However, the SNP leader said people should expect a slower easing of lockdown rules than last summer, due to the more transmissible UK variant.
Ms Sturgeon said there would be no relaxation of the current coronavirus rules, with the exception of some school pupils returning next week, before the start of March.
And the current stay at home order will remain in place “possibly for a further period beyond that”, she said.
Even when restrictions begin to be eased, a return to full normality is “unlikely to be possible for a while yet”.
What can we expect from the roadmap?
The first minister was cautious when announcing the lockdown exit plan, warning the situation in the country was still “very fragile”.
“Even a slight easing of restrictions could cause cases to start rising rapidly again,” she said.
The new framework will detail the “broad order of priority” for businesses reopening.
It will also set out what a return to the five-tier level protection system, that was in place prior to the January lockdown, could look like.
But while the plan will indicate what restrictions might be relaxed, it will also “be clear” about what the government does not think is possible when it comes to easing rules.
Ms Sturgeon added that the roadmap would be “driven much more by data than by dates”.
What could reopen first?
Following education, greater contact between families will be a top priority in the plan, the first minister said.
That will be followed by a phased reopening of the economy, starting with non-essential shops first.
She said the roadmap would be clear on the “trade-offs” that Scots will have to make, like continued travel restrictions, to make more normality within the country possible.
Ms Sturgeon added: “Given the risks posed by new variants of this virus, it is hard to overstate the necessity of being careful, cautious and gradual as we exit this lockdown, if we want to avoid another one later in the year.
"And that means, for now, all of us continuing to abide by the stay at home requirement."
What about holidays?
Scots were also warned against booking breaks within the country during the Easter holidays.
Ms Sturgeon said it was “highly unlikely” that hotels and self-catering venues would be fully open by then to accommodate people.
However, she did say that summer staycations could be possible depending on “data nearer the time”.
But the first minister ruled out the possibility of overseas travel in the hotter months.