Scotland’s first minister has announced her government’s plans to reopen the country from lockdown, with the previous tiered system of restrictions due to take effect again in April.
Speaking a day after UK PM Boris Johnson unveiled his lockdown exit plan for England, Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland would embark on a period of “progressive easing,” with the current stay-at-home order lifted on April 5.
From March 15, four people, or two households, will be able to meet outside, and all primary and secondary school students should be returned to classroom learning by that date. The plan also sees hospitality, including shops, bars, restaurants, gyms, and hairdressers, due to reopen in the last week of April.
The first minister reiterated the country would “rely very heavily” on restrictions in order to suppress the spread of the virus in the weeks ahead while the vaccination campaign continues. She added that the plan was “deliberately cautious” at this stage.
“But in the coming weeks, if the data allows and positive trends continue, we will seek to accelerate the easing of restrictions,” she noted.
Sturgeon added that she hoped to be able to lift national measures from the last week in April, and return the country to the tiered system of lightened restrictions which was used in late 2020.
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Despite high infection rates, some children and young students across Scotland returned to class on Monday. Last week, Imperial College’s Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) said that although Covid-19 prevalence in the UK fell across all age groups to early February, it was highest among those aged 18 to 24 (0.89 percent) and children aged 5 to 12 years old (0.86 percent).
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Johnson said schools should not return until three weeks after the UK’s most vulnerable groups had received their first jab on February 15.
To date, almost 1.5 million Scots have received their first vaccine.
Last week, Scotland’s auditor general criticised Sturgeon’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic and accused the government of a slow approach that failed to implement necessary improvements. The opposition Conservative Party leader, Douglas Ross, described the report as damning for Sturgeon and her administration.
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