Sturgeon may ease rules on exercise but warns 'catastrophic' to end lockdown

Nicola Sturgeon has said that some lockdown restrictions could be lifted in Scotland in the "immediate future" to maintain a "four nations" approach with the UK, but warned changing the stay at home message would be 'potentially catastrophic'

The First Minister revealed she is ready to ease the curbs on exercising which allows Scots to leave home just once a day.

It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson is ready make a similar move south of the border. But reports that the Prime Minister could give the green light to more people going back to work and using public transport would be "potentially catastrophic" for Scotland, the SNP leader said during her daily Coronavirus update today.

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A meeting of the emergency COBRA body was expected to take place today to discuss extending the current three week lockdown. But this has now been delayed until Sunday when Mr Johnson will set out his views on lifting the restrictions in England

Nicola Sturgeon says she could ease restrictions on daily exercise to match UK approach

Any easing of the lockdown which could be undermine the "stay at home" public message which has driven down Coronavirus hospital cases and deaths was given a frosty reception by the SNP leader.

But she does appear ready to back an easing of the stay at home restrictions on exercise which limits Scots to leaving the house just once a day for this purpose.

"It is my preference if possible for all four UK nations to make changes together at the same pace because that certainly helps us give clear consistent messages to the public," she said.

"For that approach to work we must be ready to make changes only when all four Governments are satisfied that they don't risk a resurgence of the virus.

"If the Prime Minister decides that he wants to move at a faster pace in England than I consider is right for Scotland, that is of course his right. I will respect that and not criticise him for doing that."

But she added; "I must make judgements informed by the evidence that is right and safe for Scotland - I will not be pressured into lifting restrictions prematurely and before I'm as certain as we can be that we will not be risking a resurgence of infection."

She added: "Of the changes that are proposed, there is only that I may - and I stress at this stage may - be prepared to agree to in the immediate future.

"That is the change in guidance limiting outdoor exercise to once a day only. That is currently, as you know, one of the limited number of reasons that you are permitted to leave home.

"We are already considering whether it would be possible now, without increasing the R number, to permit exercise outdoors more often than once a day - but on the strict conditions that you still stay within your own household group, stay two metres away from others and stay reasonably close to your own home."

She insisted this would not alter the general "stay at home" message.

The First Minister said she will report back on considerations about this and "four nations" discussions in the coming days.

Ms Sturgeon has not spoken with Mr Johnson about the reports of his plans to ease the lockdown south of the border, but warned that suggestions he could be set to encourage people back to work, to use beer gardens and make greater use of public transport would not be replicated in Scotland.

The First Minister said these "would not in my judgement be safe for us to make yet."

"I particularly strongly believe that for us to drop the clear well understood stay at home message right now could be a potentially catastrophic mistake," she added.

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