Lockdown route map to include plan to revive Scots economy

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to set out a clear “timeline” to fire up Scotland’s economy as she prepares to unveil a route out of lockdown that could start at the end of the month.

Golfers walk past the first green at Charlesland Golf Club in Greystones, County Wicklow, as phase one of Ireland's five phase exit plan was triggered on Monday.
Golfers walk past the first green at Charlesland Golf Club in Greystones, County Wicklow, as phase one of Ireland's five phase exit plan was triggered on Monday.

The First Minister will publish plans for a “phased approach” to lifting restrictions this week. Measures under consideration include people from different households being able to meet up, garden centres reopening and some sports such as golf restarting.

Ms Sturgeon said reviving the country’s mothballed economy will be at the heart of the strategy after business leaders told Holyrood’s economy committee that firms are now “restless” to resume trading.

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The “route map” of the plan for a phased approach to Scotland’s exit from lockdown will be set out on Thursday and will include a detailed indication of the order ministers will seek to lift restrictions, but no specific dates.

If progress is made in reducing the spread of the virus, the First Minister said changes to lockdown restrictions could be made after the next review date, which is 28 May.

She said: “Within a few days of that, we will aim to allow, for example, more outdoor activity such as being able to sit in the park, meet up outdoors with someone from another household as long as you stay socially distant, some limited outdoor sporting activities like golf and fishing, the opening of garden centres and recycling facilities, and the resumption of some outdoor work.”

She said more information will also be given about when schools might reopen.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Within two weeks, my hope is that we will be taking some concrete steps on the journey back to normality.

“As I’ve said before, it won’t be normality as we knew it because the virus will not have gone away but it will be a journey to a better balance, I hope, than the one we have today.

“As we take each step, we must make sure that the ground beneath us is as solid as possible.

“That’s why sticking with the lockdown restrictions a bit longer to suppress the virus more is so important because that will mean we can start to take these steps with the confidence that we have alternative means of effectively keeping it under control.”

The UK government has already moved to restart the economy south of the Border, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging staff to go back to workplaces if they cannot work from home.

CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said yesterday: “A safe and phased re-opening of the economy also requires timelines.

“They don’t need to be concrete. In fact, they shouldn’t be. We will move as the health and scientific advice allows.

“But we do need to be indicative to give businesses time to prepare and put in place the necessary social distancing measures.”

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said its latest tracker research, from last week, found 43 per cent of businesses “did not have confidence that they are actually going to survive this crisis”.

Ms Cameron added: “Even with the job retention scheme, I unfortunately think there is going to be a massive rise in unemployment when we begin to look at the capacity issues.”

On the economy, Ms Sturgeon said: “The reopening and restarting of the economy will be covered in the route map.

“I want the economy to be operational as much as anybody does and as quickly as possible, but it will not be doing the economy any good if we prematurely restart things and have the virus to run out of control again. We’ll end up then in a further lockdown that will do even more and potentially more long-lasting damage to the economy.”

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