Scottish election 2021: Nicola Sturgeon pledges first job will be lockdown review if SNP wins power

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged a review of lockdown restrictions will be her first act if the SNP are re-elected to power as she repeated her assertion that Scotland needs “serious leadership”.

Following the election, the first major decision of the new Scottish Government would be to approve changes to coronavirus rules due to come into force on May 17 – a choice that has usually been announced the Tuesday before the changes are made.

The changes, which will see Scotland move to level two, include allowing four people from two households to meet indoors for the first time since last year, along with increasing the number of people who can meet outdoors.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits T.B Watson Specialist whisky & wine merchant as she campaigns in Midsteeple Quarter for the Scottish Parliament election. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell-WPA Pool/Getty Images

With just three days left before Scotland goes to the polls and the SNP saying the election was on a “knife edge”, the First Minister sought to put her experience in office since 2014 and her handling of the coronavirus pandemic front and centre.

“The first job of a newly elected government will be to decide on whether we are ready to lift restrictions even further on the 17th May,” she said.

“That’s why I believe Scotland needs serious leadership for serious times.”

Cases in Scotland have reduced rapidly since the beginning of the year, along with deaths, hospital admissions and intensive care treatment as the vaccination programme has inoculated more than 60 per cent of the population.

That progress has led Ms Sturgeon to say she is “confident that the country is on the right track, and we will be able to take further steps to free up society and allow our economy to begin to recover”.

She added: “We have come together over the last year to get through the pandemic together, with people going to extraordinary lengths, whether working in our NHS, frontline services, working and schooling from home or making huge personal sacrifices.

“If we apply the same approach to recovery, and all come together to build a better, fairer society then there is nothing that Scotland cannot achieve.”

Every poll has the SNP returning as the largest party in Holyrood after Thursday, but the parliamentary arithmetic may still have it running a minority administration, as was the case in the last term.

But Ms Sturgeon has been pushing for a majority in this election, which would not only strengthen her government’s hand on domestic issues at Holyrood, but also bolster the case for another independence referendum, which she and other SNP politicians have repeatedly asserted would only take place after the pandemic has passed.

The First Minister continued: “I am ready to get down to work, backed by a strong SNP government, to do what I can to get Scotland through the pandemic and into recovery.

“By voting SNP in the constituency vote on Thursday and SNP on the regional vote on Thursday we can protect the progress we have made and ensure a strong, experienced government to keep Scotland on the right track.”

The assertion comes as Ms Sturgeon said on Monday morning the suggestion an independent Scotland would have been unable to procure coronavirus vaccines was “nonsense”.

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