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Scotland could ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions from end of May, Nicola Sturgeon announces

Nicola Sturgeon said she would publish her plans later this week

3 min read

Scotland could see its coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased later this month, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The Scottish First Minister said she planned to publish a "route map" for a phased relaxation later this week, with the first "concrete steps" planned for the end of the month.

Speaking at the daily Scottish Government briefing, Ms Sturgeon said the "first phase" of her plan would begin at the next formal review of the measures on 28 May, provided the infection rate continues to drop.

Her announcement comes almost two weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced similar changes for England, including urging more people to return to work and allowing some outdoor sports.

Unveiling the plan, Ms Sturgeon said: "The route map we publish on Thursday will give a more detailed indication of the order in which we will carefully and gradually seek to lift current restrictions.

"Now, like other countries, we will not yet be able to put firm dates on all of the different phases because timings must be driven by data and evidence.

"It will also be important that we asses the impact of measures in one phase before moving on to another. We will continue, and again, I want to stress this, to take a cautious approach that ensures that the virus is suppressed while seeking to restore as much normality as possible when it is safe to do so."

The SNP leader said the first steps would include allowing people to "sit in the park; meetup outdoors with somebody from another household as long as you stay socially distanced" as well as allowing some sporting activities such as golf and fishing.

Meanwhile, she said there would be a "widening" of testing capacity to allow everyone over the age of five who was showing symptoms to book a test.

Earlier this month, Ms Sturgeon had urged Scots "not to get distracted" by Mr Johnson's announcement, saying it was "too soon" for lockdown restrictions in the country to be lifted.

But unveiling the plans on Monday, she said: "As we take each step, we must make sure that the ground beneath us is as solid as possible.

"That's why sticking with the lockdown restrictions a bit longer to suppress the virus more is so important because that will mean we can start to take these steps with the confidence that we have alternative means of effectively keeping it under control."

Her announcement comes as Number 10 suggested plans to ease restrictions further in England would not be dependent on having the Governmment's new track-and-trace scheme to map the spread of the virus up-and-running.

Asked if the scheme was essential to Mr Johnson's plans for making further changes to the lockdown, a spokesperson said: "I don't think that is something we have explicitly said.

"What we have said in relation to step two is that we will only move forward if it is safe to do so, and that we will need to look at the five tests which the Government has in place and we will need to study closely the R rate and the rate of new infections."

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