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coronavirus

First Minister to unveil lockdown easing plan

Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that a return to the different levels of restrictions will be imposed as Scotland looks to emerge from lockdown.

Nicola Sturgeon will later today outline in broad terms how Scotland will emerge from current lockdown restrictions.

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 with periods of at least three weeks between them.

This will firstly gradually ease current level four restrictions imposed on the Scottish Mainland and some west coast island groups.

Then, when it is safe to do so, the government will look to 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 immediate priorities will continue to be the return of young people to education, followed by sports activities for young people and limited social interaction for adults.

In setting out the revised framework, it will detail how the Scottish Government will use and balance all the tools — restrictions and advice, vaccination, test and protect, travel restrictions and support for businesses, organisations and individuals — to restore, on a phased and sustainable basis, greater normality to everyday lives across Scotland.

The priority will continue to be suppression of the virus to the lowest possible level while striving to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible as quickly as it is safe to do so.

First Minister Ms 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.”

However, she continued to exercise and urge caution, adding: “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”