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Nicola Sturgeon to provide route map out of lockdown today — how to watch and what to expect

Nicola Sturgeon is set to unveil Scotland’s route map out of lockdown as restrictions are set to ease across the country.

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 this afternoon, a day after the Prime Minister outlines the UK Government’s road map.

The plans for easing lockdown will be driven by data rather than by hard and fast dates – however, it will set out an indicative order of priority and proposed phases.

These will have periods of at least three weeks between them to firstly, gradually ease the current level 4 restrictions and then, when it is safe to do so, return to more geographically variable levels when all or parts of the country may move to lower levels with more of the economy opening up. 

Nicola Sturgeon said: “We hope that more children will be able to return to school later in March. And we have published new guidance to enable an easing of restrictions on care home visiting from early March.

“Beyond that, giving people the ability to meet loved ones, initially outdoors, is a priority for easing restrictions within the current level 4.”

Here, we outline what we know so far and what we can expect.

When is the announcement?

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament at around 2.20pm.

How can I watch it?

The Scottish Parliament will be showing her statement live on Scottish Parliament TV here.

Alternatively, it will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland and BBC Scotland.

You can also follow all the updates on our live blog.

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will return to the geographic levels system.

The Scottish Government will then decide whether all or parts of the country may move out of Level 4 and into Level 3 where more parts of the economy will start to open up.

As stated, the Scottish Government’s plans for easing lockdown will be driven by data rather than by hard and fast dates – however it will set out an indicative order of priority and proposed phases – with periods of at least three weeks between them – to, firstly, gradually ease current level 4 restrictions and then, when it is safe to do so, return to more geographically variable levels when all or parts of the country may move to lower levels with more of the economy opening up. 

The First Minister said: “A limited number of children and young people were able to return to school yesterday and we have prioritised this because children’s education and wellbeing is such an overriding priority.

“Of course, this has only been possible because people across Scotland have worked together and made sacrifices to bring down levels of Covid-19.

“We hope that more children will be able to return to school later in March. And we have published new guidance to enable an easing of restrictions on care home visiting from early March.”

This will depend on what lockdown level areas are placed in. However, when the tiered system was in place in Scotland several months ago, shops, restaurants and pubs could open in Levels 0, 1, 2 and 3. 

According to England’s road map, outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen from April 12. 

In England, they are scheduled to reopen shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions from April 12, and with Nicola Sturgeon stating that Scotland would be “broadly similar” to the rest of the UK, we could potentially see similar dates here depending on case numbers in Scotland.

When could lockdown end?

There’s no real answer for this as new strains can develop as the vaccination rollout continues.

However, the First Minister said that they are aiming to have the entire adult population vaccinated by July 31.

She said: “We’re waiting on updated supply forecasts to give me certainty and to give the Health Secretary certainty that we will have those supplies or we can at this stage assume we will have those supplies.

“What I’d say right now is that if we have those supplies, we will do that and we will vaccinate as quickly as possible.”

The First Minister said she had confidence in Scotland’s rollout, which she said was the highest daily rate in Europe at points last week.

“We’ve shown that we can really make this vaccination programme motor, but obviously the biggest constraining factor is going to be the volume of supplies,” she said.

“So I would hope that the JCVI list, that we’ve always said (we would vaccinate) by May, I would hope – supplies permitting – we could bring that forward to around about the middle of April, then the adult population by the end of July.

“But we need to have that certainty in supply before we can be absolutely firm about that.”

In England, Boris Johnson announced that from June 21 at the earliest, all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, larger events can go ahead and nightclubs could finally reopen.

Outdoor gatherings

Nicola Sturgeon said that Scotland would be “broadly similar” to the rest of the UK.

Boris Johnson has confirmed that from March 29, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed.

It is understood this will include gatherings in private gardens.

The First Minister said: “Giving people the ability to meet loved ones, initially outdoors, is a priority for easing restrictions within the current level 4.”

What about sports?

In England, outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, will also return. Again, this could be similar in Scotland, however, there is no real confirmation yet.

What are the latest figures?

On Monday, Nicola Sturgeon announced 827 new positive Covid cases and no new deaths in the last 24 hours.

The daily test positivity rate is 5.5% and of the new cases.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that 1,141 people are in hospital and 99 people are in intensive care.

In the seven days from February 13 and February 19, Scotland had 5,676 cases of Covid, which is 103.9 cases per 100,000 population and a test positivity rate of 5.1%. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We know we cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely and we must plan a gradual phased return to as much normality as possible.

“The restrictions we have put in place are difficult for individuals, families and businesses across Scotland, but they are working – case numbers have decreased, the numbers of people in hospital and needing intensive care are coming down and we are now seeing fewer vulnerable people dying from this horrible illness. 

“This means we can begin to consider how, carefully and gradually, we can return to some normality in Scotland.

“A limited number of children and young people were able to return to school yesterday and we have prioritised this because children’s education and wellbeing is such an overriding priority. Of course, this has only been possible because people across Scotland have worked together and made sacrifices to bring down levels of COVID-19.

“We hope that more children will be able to return to school later in March. And we have published new guidance to enable an easing of restrictions on care home visiting from early March.

The National:

“Beyond that, giving people the ability to meet loved ones, initially outdoors, is a priority for easing restrictions within the current level 4.

“As we get to a situation where we can move back to a levels approach, with all or part of the country moving down a level, we can start to carefully open the economy again too.

“The strategic framework sets out as far as possible at this stage how we will approach the gradual easing of restrictions. We will be able to give more detail and clarity in the weeks ahead as we make further progress both on suppressing the virus and vaccinating the population and as we understand more about the impact of vaccination.

“However, to keep moving in the right direction and avoid setbacks caution will be necessary, which is why the framework will be clear about the need to move in a gradual way.”

Ever since Scotland entered a national lockdown on January 4, all restaurants, bars and gyms have been closed across mainland Scotland.

A “Stay at Home” order has been in place since lockdown began.

The Scottish Government intends to “strengthen” the obligation on employers to allow their staff to work from home wherever possible.

The law already says that people should only be leaving home to go to work if it is work that cannot be done from home.

The National:

This is a legal obligation that falls on individuals.

No changes have been made for rules around outdoor exercise, however, Ms Sturgeon reiterated the “stay at home” regulations.

Shops that have been operating a Click and Collect service will have to stop doing so under the new guidelines.

Now, only retailers selling essential items will be allowed to offer click and collect.

In schools from February 22:

Primary: Children in primary one, two and three should provisionally return to class

Secondary school: Senior pupils who have practical assignments to complete will be allowed to return on a “part-time” basis with no more than 8 per cent of the school roll attending “at any one time”

Nursery: Pre-school nurseries will open

Additional needs: Some children and young people with significant additional support needs will also be prioritised for a return

Key workers: Children of key workers will remain at school



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