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First Minister gives more detail on plans for first phase of easing Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has given more details of how easing the coronavirus lockdown will work in the first phase.

Yesterday the Scottish Government published the high level detail of a four-phase plan to ease the lockdown in Scotland, with elements of the first phase expected to be rolled out from Thursday next week.

At today's coronavirus briefing Ms Sturgeon said more than 100,000 people have already accessed the "route map".

She also warned that the biggest danger ahead lay in people pushing too far ahead too quickly in coming out of lockdown and ignoring government advice.

“The one thing that would slow down our lifting of the lockdown is taking our foot off the brake too quickly now and allowing the virus to start to spread rapidly,” she said.

“However, on a more optimistic note, as things stand, we do intend to enter the first phase of easing restrictions from next Thursday, May 28, less than one week away.

“By then I hope you will still be seeing progress in the fight against the virus, but also by then we will be in a position to start with our test, trace and isolate programme or Test and Protect as we're calling it.

“More outdoor activity will be permitted. There is a strong emphasis, in the first phase, on outdoor activity because one of the things we are learning about this virus is that the risks of transmission outdoors, though not absolutely zero, are nevertheless lower than the risks of transmission indoors.

“So you'll be able, in this first phase, to sit outside or sunbathe in parks or other areas and as long as you stay two metres apart you will also be able to meet outside with people from another household, including in private gardens.

“That doesn't limit you to seeing just one specific household during this phase. You can see different households, but we are asking you only to meet one at a time.

"We are also not intending to put a five-mile limit on the distance you can travel to, for example, sit with your parents in their garden. But we are asking you to use judgment and increasingly come out of lockdown.

"I'm going to be more and more relying on you to exercise judgment, that I know you will.

“If, for example, you need to travel a long distance to see a relative outside, you're more likely to perhaps go inside the house to use the bathroom –and we don't want you to go inside others houses in this phase because if you are infectious, maybe without knowing about it, you risk leaving the virus on surfaces inside the house and that would pose a risk to other people visiting elderly relatives.

“That is a risk we don't want you to take so please use your judgment and continue to have uppermost in your mind the need to protect those you care about, even if that might mean staying apart from them for just a little bit longer."

She added: “People will be able to travel, preferably by walking or cycling at a location near the local community for recreation, but here we are asking you to stay fairly local.

“Five miles is not going to be a strict limit but it is intended to give you a guide, because what we don't want in this phase is for people to congregate at tourist hotspots because crowds of people – even if they are trying to socially distance – brings more risk that we don't judge it is safe to take at this time.”

She also said that the test, track and trace system – to be called Test and Protect – will be operational by next Thursday.

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