Sturgeon says Scotland should 'look seriously at social and economic reform'

Scotland should "look seriously at social and economic reform" in its planning for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the virus has fundamentally changed everyday life but has given an opportunity to shape a different kind of future.Stressing that lockdown measures are vital to suppress the spread of coronavirus, and could continue in their current form beyond this three-week period, she called on people to work together to develop ways Scotland can emerge stronger from the crisis.

Writing in the Herald on Sunday, she said: "When things come apart - when the kaleidoscope of our lives is shaken - there is an opportunity to see them put back together differently, and see a new way of doing things.

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"And we can start to think together, and work together, to decide the kind of Scotland we want to emerge from this crisis.

covid 19 briefing by Scottish Government New St. Andrews House, Edinburgh Nicola Sturgeon - first Minister

"We still all face major challenges. Challenges in navigating the uncertainties that the virus has created, as well as rebuilding our economy and public services.

"But we can go further than rebuilding, and look seriously at social and economic reform."

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She added: "I am confident we can start to begin considering our futures with optimism because this crisis has taught us how we can achieve rapid results under the most demanding circumstances."

Earlier this week, as the Scottish Government published a paper setting out a framework for how lockdown measures could be eased in the future, Ms Sturgeon warned people must adapt to a new reality and said some restrictions to prevent spread could be in place until the end of the year or beyond.

The latest Health Protection Scotland daily figures published on Saturday indicate 1,231 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19, but the true death toll is likely to be higher as statistics from the National Records of Scotland covering all deaths linked to the virus as of Sunday April 19 was 1,616.

Across the country, 10,051 people had tested positive for the virus by Saturday.Speaking on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, Ms Sturgeon said she would diverge from elsewhere in the UK in lifting lockdown measures if necessary, but stressed this decision is "not political in any way, shape or form".

She said: "If, and it is an if, I'm not saying that we're likely to get in to this territory, the UK Government took decisions that I thought were premature in terms of coming out of the lockdown, then clearly I would want to make sure that Scotland did what I judged was best to protect the population."

Asked by Mr Marr when he would be able to see his parents, who live outside Dundee, Ms Sturgeon replied: "I'm not going to give you a date for that now, Andrew, because it would be irresponsible for me to do so because I do not have the information that gives me the confidence that I can say that with certainty.

"One of the most difficult, if not the most difficult aspect of all of this, is that need for grandparents to be separate from their grandkids.

"My own parents are suffering from that right now and grandparents up and down the country are in the same position."

In the wide-ranging interview, she also said Scotland is on track to hit its capacity target of 3,500 tests daily by the end of April but faces challenges in ensuring these available tests are "fully utilised".

On possible arrangements for schools reopening, she said patterns such as having some pupils attend Monday, Wednesday and Friday and others on Tuesday and Thursday to maintain social distancing or for some to have lessons in the morning and others in the afternoon are among the type of set-ups which may be needed.

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