The Scottish Government is to adopt a very cautious approach when it lays out a road map to easing lockdown restrictions next week, as the Scottish Conservatives say they want to see “clarity and hope.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will unveil the new road map to parliament next Tuesday and will place an emphasis on data-driven decisions rather than focusing on specific calendar dates for the reopening of society.
The country has been placed under tough lockdown conditions since Boxing Day last year and although encouraging progress has been made on the first round of vaccinations, coronavirus infection numbers have been falling slowly rather than plummeting, which is shaping government strategy.
It is understood Ms Sturgeon will want to continue opening up the country’s schools where it is safe to do so; then look next to ease restrictions on care home visits, religious worship and perhaps some very limited relaxing of the rules that currently prevent non-essential retailers from opening for business.
Looking ahead, the Scottish Government will continue to rely upon test and protect schemes, vaccinations and compliance with public health rules as the country moves back towards a system of tiered restrictions based on geography, and local virus rates.
However, since the tier system failed to prevent a worsening progression of the pandemic during autumn, it is likely that any new tier system will be noticeably stricter than the previous levels.
Conservatives urge focus on jobs and economy
Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives say Scots deserve “clarity and hope in the months ahead”, after “almost a full year of sacrifices and restrictions”.
Party leader Douglas Ross says he wants the government to “be honest about what the new normal will be” and that they should be focusing on rebuilding the economy and getting people back to work.
“Instead of obsessively pushing a damaging and divisive independence referendum this year, the SNP must focus on jobs and the economy,” says Moray MP Mr Ross.
The Conservatives have laid out their own plans for Scotland’s post-pandemic recovery, which include creating a Coronavirus Business Advisory Council, cutting red tape on Covid support schemes, and speeding up funding decisions.
They’re also calling for a minimum one-week “adaptation period” between announcing new coronavirus-related rules and restrictions and implementing them.