First Minister: 'Scots lockdown strategy to be published next week'

The lockdown across Scotland will remain in place for another three weeks – but plans for its end are to be released.

Lockdown measures are working, Scotland's First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she revealed hopes to publish a lockdown exit strategy next week.

Speaking at a virtual First Minister's Questions, where she was questioned by the leaders of Scotland's main political parties, Nicola Sturgeon said the plans will be drawn up then shared with the public, with a "framework of decision-making" hoped to be announced next week.

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She said her "clear advice" is lockdown measures must continue for at least another three weeks.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: (ANDREW MILLIGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The First Minister spoke out ahead of talks with other UK leaders today on the emergency COBRA group which will consider the lockdown restrictions. Ms Sturgeon said other governments can “make their own decisions” but the stay-at-home restrictions in Scotland must remain.

The latest COVID-19 figures north of the border show further signs of optimism. Despite an increase in the number of deaths by 80 to 779, the number of hospital cases is up just 51 to 1799, while those in intensive care has dropped by one to 196.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Unfortunately lockdown is going to continue beyond this week.

"My advice - COBRA will meet later on and other Governments have to reach their own decisions - but my clear advice is that we must continue these lockdown measures for at least another three weeks.

"While we are increasingly confident that these measures are working, we are not yet confident that the virus has been suppressed sufficiently to lift us of these measures.

"The risk of doing that would be a resurgence that would be extremely damaging."

Scottish officials are already working on the framework for Scotland's exit strategy, with Ms Sturgeon hinting this week that a stage by stage approach could be adopted, with schools perhaps allowed to return first and some shops reopened.

The First Minister said further details of the exit strategy will be unveiled next week.

"People want to know that the thinking is beyond that period,” she added.

“We don't yet have all the answers, no government does.

"Sharing the thought processes and the factors we're taking into account and the framework for making decisions is important.

"I hope over the course of next week, not announce all of these decisions, we won't be able to do that, but to set out that framework of decision-making.

"We have to monitor the spread of the virus carefully, we have to assess the options for lifting the restrictions, what the impact of that would be on the virus, on the economy and on well-being more generally.

"And given that we're going to be living with this virus for some time to come, we have to consider what takes the place of any measures that we lift in order that we continue to suppress it.

"That's where test, trace and isolate comes to the fore. I am absolutely of the view that that has to be a key part of any longer term strategy to get life back to normal as much as is going to be possible to do that when this virus remains a challenge.

"I hope next week we will be able to set out the principles that are the framework for that decision making."

Greens Holyrood co-leader Alison Johnstone said it is important to know that plans are being made for a clear "exit strategy to end lockdown safely when the time is right."

The Greens MSP said a "test, trace, isolate" strtegy is needed to provent further outbreaks in future and sought an assurance that the Scottish minister are committed to such a strtegy