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FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined Scotland’s road map out of lockdown today, with a “substantial reopening” tentatively planned from the end of April.
Speaking at Holyrood, the SNP leader told MSPs that, “if all goes according to plan,” the country will return to the levels system of coronavirus restrictions from April 26, with all council areas placed in Level 3.
The announcement followed Boris Johnson setting out his government’s plans for easing lockdown restrictions, with the Prime Minister claiming to be “very optimistic” that he will be able to remove all of England’s coronavirus restrictions on June 21.
Unveiling the revised road map out of lockdown, Ms Sturgeon said that the lockdown would be eased in phases separated by at least three weeks and contingent on continuing suppression of the virus.
Monday’s partial return of pupils to schools was the first phase, she said, and the second is expected after March 15.
Ms Sturgeon spoke of a further relaxation of restrictions from April 5, saying that her “hope and expectation” is that the stay at home order will be lifted then and all pupils will go back to school.
Opposition leaders questioned the government’s strategy for tackling the continuing pandemic and returning life to normal.
Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said the First Minister’s announcement lacked clarity on its “ultimate goal.”
Ms Baillie asked whether ministers were pursuing a zero-Covid or continued suppression strategy, stresssing that it was “important the people understand what lies ahead.”
Ms Sturgeon said that she hoped to be able to give more detail in mid-March on the easing of restrictions, along with a new testing strategy to take account of increased capacity and new objectives as the country emerges from lockdown.
Trade union leaders cautiously welcomed the announcement, with the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) agreeing that decisions should be driven by data, not dates.
But the STUC said there remain concerns, including over safety measures in the run-up to further school returns.
General secretary Roz Foyer said: “Whilst we understand that giving hope is important, we must also manage expectations and tightly control the transition from restrictions to vaccinations as the key way we suppress this virus.
“If we rush too fast, we risk people’s health and the future economic recovery.”
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