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Scottish Government publishes road map to easing out of lockdown

By Chris Saunderson

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A ROAD map to begin easing Scotland out of lockdown has been revealed by the Scottish Government.

The plan will see a number of current restrictions eased from next Thursday, May 28.

These include:

  • People able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and meet people from ONE other household, although initially in small numbers, while they are outside.
  • Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities will be allowed - golf, tennis, bowls and fishing - subject to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.
  • People will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling - to a location near their local community for recreation, although people are being asked to stay within or close to their own local area.
  • Waste and recycling services will resume, as will many outdoor businesses, such as agriculture and forestry.
  • Take-away and drive-through food outlets can reopen, as long as they apply safe physical distancing.
  • Outdoor retail outlets such as garden centres can reopen.
Golf at Buckpool and other clubs can return on Thursday, May 28. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Golf at Buckpool and other clubs can return on Thursday, May 28. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

However, non-essential indoor shops, and indoor cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed in the first phase.

Different households should remain two metres apart from each other, even when meeting outside to prevent easy transmission of the virus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the higher risk of transmission means visiting friends inside each others houses is not permitted in phase one.

The construction industry will be able to begin implementing a restart plan which has developed with the government.

Ms Sturgeon said: "In publishing this route map, we confront a fundamental issue. The lockdown restrictions have been absolutely necessary to mitigate the massive harm caused by the Covid-19 virus. However the lockdown is creating harms of its own - loneliness and social isolation, deepening inequalities and serious damage to our economy.

"None of us want it to last any longer than it has to.

Net gain for tennis fans.
Net gain for tennis fans.

"The steps we will take are by necessity gradual and incremental - and they must also be matched with rigorous, ongoing monitoring of the virus.

"There is no completely risk free way of lifting lockdown. But we must mitigate the risks as much as we can. And we must not at any stage act rashly or recklessly."

Nicol Sturgeon announced phase one of the easing of lockdown.
Nicol Sturgeon announced phase one of the easing of lockdown.

The First Minister stressed that the virus has not gone away and continues to pose a significant threat to health.

"And if we move too quickly or without proper care, it could run out of control again very quickly. The danger of a second wave later in the year is very real indeed."

Hand washing, cough hygiene and physical distancing continue to be essential, as will wearing a face covering where it is impractical to social distance.

"Each of us will have an ongoing responsibility to protect ourselves and to protect each other."

Outdoor green bowls will return.
Outdoor green bowls will return.

Phase one will be reviewed in three weeks to see if a move to a second phase can be applied.

"It may be that we can’t do everything in a particular phase at the same time. A single phase may span more than one review period. Some measures may be lifted earlier than planned and some later.

"And, of course, our plans will change if the data, evidence or indeed our understanding of the virus changes."

There have been 14, 856 positive cases confirmed in Scotland, an increase of 105 from yesterday.

A total of 1318 patients are in hospital with Covid-19 – 909 of them who have been confirmed as having the virus, and 409 who are suspected of having Covid. That represents a total decrease of 125 from yesterday, including a decrease of 34 in the number of confirmed cases.

In the past 24 hours, 37 deaths have been registered of patients who had been confirmed through a test as having the virus – and that takes the total number of deaths in Scotland to 2221.

Added the First Minister: "These are not simply statistics - they all represent individuals whose loss is a source of grief to many. And I want to send my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one to this virus."

She said it is estimated that the number of infected people in Scotland is arund 25,000 but that number is expected to decrease.

National Records of Scotland data showed that Covid deaths have now fallen for three consecutive weeks.

A key aspect of the Scottish strategy – as recommended by the World Health Organisation - is the “test, trace, isolate, support” approach, which will operate in Scotland as “Test and Protect”.

Anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be tested and asked to isolate.

Contact tracing will be used to identify the close contacts of positive cases and all these people will be asked to self-isolate.

That system of test and protect run by NHS Scotland is already being used on a case by case basis. From the end of this month it will be available, on an expanded basis, in every health board across the country.

The advice to people with underlying health conditions who have been advised to shield, will not change but new guidance will be issued before this initial period of shielding ends on June 18.

Anglers can take to the rivers again.
Anglers can take to the rivers again.

Unlike England, children will not return to school before the summer holidays.

However, teachers and other school staff will return during June to prepare classrooms for the new term and a different model of learning.

From August 11, all schools will re-open. However, to allow appropriate physical distancing, children will return to a blended model of part time in-school and part time at-home learning.

Childminders can re-open during phase 1 and over the summer all early years childcare providers will re-open, subject to necessary health measures. Capacity will be prioritised for children of key workers, early learning and childcare entitlement and children in need.

To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, the government will invest a further £30 million to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to enable them to study online.

Pupils will not return to Elgin Academy and all other schools in Moray until August 11.
Pupils will not return to Elgin Academy and all other schools in Moray until August 11.

"Our emergence from lockdown will be faster or slower, depending on the continued success that we have in suppressing the virus.

"It’s also worth saying I think that in the weeks ahead, our messages will inevitably have to become morenuanced and more complex, as we try to strike a very difficult balance protecting public health and also allowing more personal choice.

"Straightforward, strict rules will gradually be replaced by the need for all of us to exercise judgment and responsibility.

"We must continue, all of us, to recognise that every decision we take as individuals, has an impact on others and on our collective wellbeing.

The key advice remains the same until May 28 - Stay at home except for essential purposes – which include exercise, going to essential work that cannot be done at home, or shopping for essential items like food and medicine.

You can now exercise more than once a day – but when you do leave the house, please stay more than 2 metres from other people. And for now don’t meet up with households other than your own.

Please wear a face covering if you are in a shop or on public transport. And remember to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead welcomed the plan.

He said: “We all know that we can’t live this way forever and we all want to get back some sense of normality.

“We’ve sadly seen lives lost here in Moray and across Scotland to this disease and we can’t risk another peak – so we must move in line with our own circumstances.

“We will get through this by working together by sticking to the advice to suppress the virus further and get back a way of life that is as close to normal as possible.”

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