How will Scotland exit lockdown? Key points from the Scottish Government’s plan

The Scottish Government has published a paper setting out the challenges the country faces and outlining the considerations that must be made before we can move beyond the current lockdown arrangements.

Scotland, alongside the rest of the UK, entered lockdown on 23 March. Under law, ministers must review those arrangements at least every three weeks.

The 27-page briefing aims to give the public an insight into expert opinion and the decision-making process adopted by ministers.

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Nicola Sturgeon: Scots face 'new normal' if lockdown is to be lifted
Many businesses across Scotland have been boarded up due to lockdown. Picture: John Devlin

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland was not yet able to begin to ease its lockdown and the paper did not set any dates for when the restrictions could begin to be lifted.

Instead it proposes a “new reality” where some measures are relaxed, while others stay in force until scientists manage to develop a new vaccine.

SCHOOLS AND OFFICES

Schools and certain businesses could reopen, although no date has yet been given.

Classrooms and offices may have to be redesigned to ensure social distancing rules can still be followed, with limits on the number of people allowed in certain sized spaces.

One idea is pupils may not all attend on the same day, but rather alternate days. The paper says the Scottish Government “will support businesses and other organisations in this redesign so they can be places where physical distancing can operate”.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

“We will need people in Scotland to continue to live their lives in ways that minimise the spread of the virus,” the paper says. “So even as we lift some of the more restrictive measures, better hand hygiene and appropriate physical distancing will need to remain in place, at home, on the streets and in the workplace.”

PUBS AND LARGE GATHERINGS

The paper explains large social gatherings are unlikely to be permitted anytime soon.

“We are likely to require that gathering in groups, for example in pubs or at public events, is banned or restricted for some time to come,” it states.

“Each one of us will have to adapt to this as the new normal, at least until we are sure that we can be more protected by a vaccine or treatment.”

Ms Sturgeon said Christmas would not be cancelled, but major events late in the year such as Edinburgh’s winter festivals are still likely to be affected.

MASKS IN PUBLIC

People are likely to be advised to use face coverings in public as lockdown conditions are eased. Ms Sturgeon said: “It is likely in limited circumstances we will advise people to use face coverings – not medical masks – a scarf or bandana to cover the face.”

LOCKDOWN RETURN

Ms Sturgeon said any talk of lifting the lockdown “like the flick of a switch” was “misguided”. The First Minister said it was impossible to know with certainty what the long-term impact of decisions would be, meaning a flexible approach would be needed.

The paper said stricter lockdowns could be brought back with little warning if there was a sudden spike in cases.

REGIONAL VARIATIONS

The paper stresses the Scottish Government wants to work alongside its counterparts in Westminster and the other devolved administrations on a “collective decision-making process”, and in areas such as border control and health surveillance of people coming into the UK.

But it says the Scottish Government would consider taking a separate course of action if it was felt necessary to meet Scotland’s specific needs.

The paper states: “On occasion, expert advice may point to different approaches reflecting the specific circumstances in each country or to different optimal timings.”

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