Updated Strategic Framework published.

Scotland’s phased and careful approach to easing lockdown restrictions while continuing to suppress Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been outlined by the First Minister.

The updated Strategic Framework sets out the six tools the Scottish Government will use to restore, on a phased basis, greater normality to our everyday lives.

The immediate priority will continue to be the phased return of education, building on the return of some pupils to school on Monday 22 February. On the basis that progress in suppressing the virus and vaccinating key groups remains on track restrictions would be eased in the following order:

  • the next phase of school returns with the rest of the primary school years, P4 to P7, and more senior phase secondary pupils back in the classroom for part of their learning and the limit on outdoor mixing between households increasing to four people from a maximum of two households
  • the stay at home restriction to be lifted and any final school returns to take place. Communal worship to restart in limited numbers mindful of the timing of major religious festivals. This phase would also see the re-opening of retail, starting with an extension of the definition of essential retail and the removal of restrictions on click-and collect
  • return to a levels approach with all of Scotland moving to at least level 3, with some possible adjustments. This could mean that from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant re-opening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers

There is likely to be a gap of at least three weeks between each easing of restrictions to assess the impact of changes, and to check that it is safe to proceed further using the six conditions for safe easing set out by the World Health Organisation.

As the vaccination programme progresses, a return to more variable levels of restrictions, which can vary by location, is likely when it is safe to do so.

Ongoing financial support is set out in the Framework and will continue to be available to businesses as we emerge from lockdown. This includes the ongoing commitment to fund the Strategic Framework Business Fund and to provide Level 4 payments for an additional month once businesses are moved down a level. These proposals are contingent on receipt of additional consequentials from the UK Government.

Ruth Maguire MSP for Cunninghame South commented:

“It has been a long winter for everyone, but this updated framework is a sign that change is around the corner.  

“The initial steps on the route back to greater normality have been set at a careful and steady pace by the Scottish Government. For some, particularly those whose livelihood’s are being affected, it may seem slow. 

“Unfortunately, as case numbers are still quite high and due to the transmissible nature of the new variant, it is essential that a cautious approach is taken.

“As always, I am available to any constituent who requires assistance, due to the impact of the restrictions”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Our intent remains to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible.

“At the moment, and for a bit longer, we need to rely very heavily on restrictions to suppress the virus. 

“In time though – once the vast majority of the adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine – we hope that vaccination will become our main tool for suppressing the virus.

“The Strategic Framework is deliberately cautious at this stage but in the coming weeks, if the data allows and positive trends continue, we will seek to accelerate the easing of restrictions.”

The updated Strategic Framework can be found here.