Jason Leitch has said he does not think there will be another lockdown in Scotland this Christmas.
Last year, a strict travel ban and limit on household mixing was put in place just a week before Christmas, with the country moving into level four restrictions on Boxing Day.
Speaking today on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, the national clinical director said he “honestly” does not know what the Covid situation will be by the end of the year – but is hopeful it will be different to the 2020 Christmas lockdown.
He continued: “I don’t think we’ll be in lockdown. I don’t think we’ll go back so far that it’ll feel like it did way back at the beginning in wave one and even in wave two.
“I’m hopeful that together, the NHS and the people of Scotland, can get us to what will be a Christmas where we can see family and we can go about our business, go for dinner, go for nights out, but inside that, check in, get your vaccine, get tested to make all of that safer.”
Virus is ‘difficult’ to predict
There is still uncertainty around what restrictions will continue into the winter, but Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Tuesday that no immediate changes were being made.
During her latest Covid update, the first minister said the situation in Scotland remains “fragile” and that many hospitals are close to capacity – which is likely to “intensify” during winter.
Although the virus remains too “difficult” to predict, Mr Leitch did say the vaccine roll-out is one of the reasons this Christmas will hopefully be less restrictive.
He said: “There are some early signs of reduction in England numbers, now they’re way higher than us so they’re starting from a higher base just now.
“It may be that we’re beginning to see the effect of bigger numbers of vaccinations and we might get some benefit from that over the next little while.”
Do not drop your guard
Mr Leitch told the radio programme that life should not feel completely normal yet and stressed the importance of people following the restrictions that do remain in place.
He said: “You’d have to introduce really draconian restrictions to get it down, so we need it down more slowly, with vaccines, testing, and following the hygiene rules.
“It’s what people are doing but the vaccine is stubborn. There’s no sensible public health advisor in the world who wouldn’t say to politicians we need to have a reverse gear, we have to be able to go backwards as well as forwards.
“If you think about where we’ve been to where we are, life is pretty much back to normal in a lot of settings, which is why we need people to not drop their guard.”
The national clinical director made an additional plea to those aged 18-29 as he is “worried” about the stalling of the vaccine uptake in this age group.