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First Minister will not be 'pressured' into easing Scotland's Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland

By Scott Maclennan

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Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will not be pressured into rushing Scotland out of lockdown until she is as certain as possible it will not spark a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Speaking at her daily briefing, she responded to media reports that claim Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ready to start easing lockdown restrictions in England.

Ms Sturgeon ruled out such a move for now, though she also said that this could change before the next required review of the lockdown, on May 28, if evidence suggested that was appropriate.

Ms Sturgeon said: “My assessment of the evidence leads me to the conclusion that the lockdown must be extended at the stage.

“We are together making really significant progress to get this virus under control, I have reported today a further reduction in the number of patients in intensive care and yesterday National Records of Scotland reported the first weekly decline in the number of registered deaths related to the virus since this outbreak began.

“Also we think the R-number might still be a bit higher here than it is in other parts of the UK, perhaps reflecting the fact that our first cases came later than England's and so we may be at a different stage of the infection.

“All of that tells me that extreme caution is required at this critical juncture to avoid a rapid resurgence of the virus.

"Before we can judge that it is safe to begin any significant, albeit gradual, easing of the restrictions we want to see data in the days ahead that confirms a very clear downward trend.”

On the situation surrounding the Prime Minister’s planned address on Sunday, which a number of reports claiming he will use to reveal the first stage of easing the lockdown, she said: “I want to take the opportunity to remind you that none of the decisions that I am taking, absolutely none of them, are driven by politics.

“They are driven only by doing what is right to tackle this virus and to save lives and I believe that is true for all leaders across the UK.

"However, I have to be clear with you that the potential changes that are reported in the media today have not yet been discussed with the Scottish Government or, as far as I know, with the other devolved governments.

“I hope we will have discussions in the next few days. We had expected a COBRA meeting today or tomorrow, but it seems now that might not take place until Sunday, which of course is the day the prime minister is due to make his statement."

It is now expected Mr Johnson will hold talks with leaders of the devolved nations later today.

“If the Prime Minister decides that he wants to move at a faster pace for England than I consider is right for Scotland then I will respect that and I will not criticise him for doing that," she said. "But I hope you understand, and I hope you agree, that I must make judgements informed by the evidence that is right and safe for Scotland.

“I will not be pressured into lifting restrictions prematurely before I am as certain as I can be that we will not be risking a resurgence of infection rates.”

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