Professor for public health at Edinburgh University Linda Bauld says there is reason for Scots to be optimistic about staycations, though warned the public won’t see many of the coronavirus restrictions lifted just yet.
Scotland was put into full lockdown on the January 5 after a surge of coronavirus cases throughout the festive period.
However, with positivity rates dropping and the rollout of a vaccine for Covid-19, there is increased hope that some rules may be lifted sooner rather than later.
Fewer than 5% of Covid-19 tests have came back positive in the past two days, with the number of patients in hospitals also dropping.
Ms Bauld said: “I think it (positivity rate) needs to be there for a while longer.
“My view would be that we need another few weeks with the positivity rate well below five and the R (number) also well under one.”
‘ICU and hospital numbers need to go down more’
Ms Bauld said she expects the country to return to a “levels framework” when it’s safe to do so.
Scotland implemented the framework last year, with an areas level decided via a “basket of indicators”.
Ms Bauld said: “We had this levels framework, which I think we will return to as we reopen in stages. Within the levels framework there’s a basket of indicators – there are five of them.”
Ms Bauld added that one of the main reasons this framework hasn’t returned yet is due to the high numbers in ICU and hospital.
She said: “The ones that are not looking as good, comparatively with where we should be, is the number of people in hospital now is about 22 below what it was at the peak in April.
“There are still a significant number of people in ICU, about 113. ICU and hospital numbers need to go down more”.
Face coverings may be here to stay
Face coverings have been mandatory on public transport and in shops since July last year, and Professor Bauld expects them to continue to be a feature of the rules until at least the end of the year.
Ms Bauld said: “Face coverings, I would imagine, we will see for the rest of this year and certainly in future winters. Given the progress we’ve made with flu this year, we may well just use them.”
There is a reason to be optimistic, though, according to the Edinburgh University professor. While numbers remain too high to ease restrictions, they are going down.
Ms Bauld says she is already “thinking about where I can go in a couple months’ time”, although conceded that foreign travel may be “off the cards”.
She said: “I really do think we’re going to be hearing good news quite soon and people should be hopeful that we’re not going to be stuck in this situation indefinitely.
“I’m very hopeful that we will have breaks in Scotland and be able to take advantage of our fantastic hospitality and tourism industry here, and we need to support them. I’m already thinking about where I can go in a couple months time.
“If we continue to make progress we will be able to holiday, not abroad; because of quarantine, unfortunately, foreign travel is going to be off the cards for a while – travelling around more domestically, absolutely”.