Covid in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon must consider earlier release from lockdown – Scotsman comment

At long, long last, we have a date: August 9. On that day, all being well, Scotland will finally emerge blinking into the light at the end of the tunnel of the Covid crisis.

Nicola Sturgeon aims to lift all major lockdown restrictions by August 9 (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

For some, the Scottish Government’s “aim” to lift all major restrictions by then is overly cautious, given the continued damage to the economy caused by lockdown.

But just having a date is a powerful fillip to the national mood. We are now most assuredly in the home straight; a little more effort and we will be there.

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According to the latest daily Covid update yesterday, there were 2,167 new cases of Covid in Scotland and four deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus. Some 3.6 million people had received their first dose of Covid vaccine, with 2.6 million having had both.

In a scientific achievement that will be celebrated for years to come, vaccines are breaking the link between infection and serious illness and will continue to do so as more people are inoculated, allowing our society to return to what Nicola Sturgeon described as a “very significant degree of normality”.

England should experience this three weeks earlier, with Boris Johnson, saying it is “looking good” for July 19 to be the “terminus point”.

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Under current plans, Scotland will move to “level zero” restrictions on that day but, despite the name, this still involves a list of restrictions, some of which sound hard to police. For example, up to eight people from four households can meet in a home and up to 15 people from 15 households can meet outdoors, but under-12s only count towards the former total, not the latter.

Perhaps more significantly, outdoor seated events, such as Premiership football matches, are “advised to operate with a maximum capacity of 2,000 people”, so during the first games of the coming season, clubs may find themselves thinking enviously of the 60,000 people allowed at the Euro 2020 final.

The country has endured the stress and grief of the Covid crisis far better than many predicted as it began, but most people are now yearning to be rid of the restrictions. So the Scottish Government should keep monitoring the situation and, using “data not dates”, deliver that wonderful day of freedom sooner than planned if at all possible.

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