Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon urged to return Scotland to 'as close to normality as possible'

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to return Scotland to “as close to normality as possible” as she prepares to outline the next steps on Covid.

The First Minister said there will be "a lot of optimism" in her new framework for dealing with the virus, but warned "we are still in a pandemic".

She is expected to keep self-isolation rules in Scotland despite their removal in England.

The First Minister will speak in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon as the Scottish Government’s blueprint for managing and recovering from Covid-19 is published.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to outline the next steps on Covid in Holyrood.

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The Scottish Conservatives called for a move away from blanket restrictions.

It came as Boris Johnson announced those in England who test positive for coronavirus will no longer be legally required to isolate from Thursday.

The Prime Minister also confirmed free universal testing will end in April under his plan for “living with Covid”.

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Speaking ahead of her own announcement, Ms Sturgeon said: “There will be a lot of optimism around what I set out tomorrow, but I’ve got to be frank with people, we are still in a pandemic of this virus.

“We know from past experience that new variants, for example, can come about and cause new challenges.

“So, we need to be vigilant about that and we need to be prepared about that, but we also need to manage that risk in a much less restrictive and more sustainable way for the future, so that we can all get back to normal, retain that sense of normality, even as we maintain that sense of vigilance."

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “With the data on the virus being much more encouraging, we have to move away from blanket restrictions and instead trust the public to do the right thing.

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“The Scottish Conservatives are the party coming up with solutions. We launched our Back to Normality policy paper a fortnight ago and I would like to see the common-sense measures contained in it adopted by the SNP Government.

“These include phasing out the increasingly-redundant Test and Protect app and redirecting the money saved into other areas of our NHS, ending the staffing crisis in Scotland’s health service so that we’re better prepared for future emergencies, and publishing an interim report of the Scottish Covid public inquiry as soon as possible so that lessons can be learned.

“We also want to see a network of long Covid clinics set up across Scotland and a national tutoring programme to help the schoolkids who have suffered most from disruptions to their education.

Nicola Sturgeon has often been too quick to introduce restrictions and too cautious when it comes to lifting them. We need to see a bold, strategic plan from her to get the country back on its feet and as close to normality as possible.”

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Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The progress that we are making against the virus is very welcome, but we must remember that this virus has not gone away and we must all remain vigilant to the threat it poses.

“When the people of Scotland most need co-operation between both of Scotland’s governments, we are faced with the prospect of them taking opposing positions on the easing of restrictions.

"Both governments must make decisions that are grounded in science and in the real world.”

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