Scotland’s lockdown easing broadly similar to Johnson’s plan’s, says Sturgeon

PA Scotland political reporters
·4-min read

Scotland’s route out of lockdown will not be identical to the UK Government’s but will be “broadly similar”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the data for the nations is different but the principles of easing restrictions will be the same.

She is due to set out plans for a gradual lifting of the current lockdown at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, a day after the Prime Minister outlines the UK Government’s road map.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said: “Our plans out of lockdown will not be identical. They are already not identical because we’ve got some kids back in school today which is not the case in England until into March, so we will not be identical but I think there will be broad similarities.”

Watch: Sturgeon previews Scotland's 'cautious' route out of lockdown

She said Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to set out a “careful and cautious” way forward, which she welcomed, adding it is “vital that we learn from past experiences”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Similar to us, it seems that they have prioritised children and education and getting life back to normal before doing other things.

“So I think the principles will be the same: we’re living through the same pandemic.

“There is a limit to how much it is sensible to diverge in the circumstances we’re facing in common, but clearly we will make our own judgments about the particular order and the particular timing of that because the data is not identical in each of the four nations.”

But the First Minister urged Scots to “be patient” with the easing of restrictions.

She said: “We’ve come this far and it’s been really, really, horrendously difficult for everybody – some more than others.

“It would really be the wrong thing to do to come this far on suppression after a second national lockdown, and particularly with the vaccination programme going so well, and ease up too quickly and send ourselves back the way.

“Patience is a hard thing for me to expect from people and to ask more of from people, I know that. I hate having to do it, but the more sensible and cautious we are just now, the more sustainable these easings of restrictions will be.”

She added: “This is really difficult, I know that, but we have to stick with this if we’re going to come out of this in the shape that we want to be.”

Ms Sturgeon said her road map would give indications of the phasing of restrictions easing, but would not provide reopening dates.

She added: “We will seek to set out tomorrow an indicative order of priority and the likely phasing of firstly the gradual lifting of the current lockdown restrictions and then, in due course, a return to the geographic levels system when we would decide whether all or parts of the country may move out of Level 4 and into Level 3, and of course that’s the part where more parts of the economy will start to open up.

“This will be a cautious way forward because it’s really important that as we come out of this lockdown, we do so sustainably.”

Children at school
Younger children returned to school in Scotland on Monday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Sturgeon also announced people with “mild or moderate” learning difficulties will be vaccinated as part of the Scottish Government’s next phase of the rollout.

They will become part of priority group six, which includes people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease and those with severe or profound learning difficulties.

By Monday morning 1,445,488 people in Scotland had received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, an increase of 13,546 from the previous day, the First Minister confirmed.

Giving a further update on the daily coronavirus figures in Scotland, she said there were 715 new coronavirus cases recorded in the past 24 hours and no deaths.

The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 6,950.

The test positivity rate is 6.6%, up from 5.5% the previous day.

There are 1,141 hospital patients with recently confirmed Covid-19, a rise of nine in 24 hours, with the number in intensive care remaining unchanged at 99.

Watch: What you can’t and can't do during England's third national lockdown