The First Minister also confirmed the next phase of schools returning on March 15.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced today that the Scottish Government are considering ‘accelerating’ the country’s exit from lockdown in light of positive data. In a statement to Holyrood this afternoon, she said the country is making “good progress” in suppressing the virus as the number of positive cases of coronavirus has declined as well as deaths caused by Covid-19.
The data published today showed that the average daily cases now are at the lowest level since the first week in October and that test positivity rates are below 5%. The report also showed a fall in the number of hospital admissions and those being admitted into intensive care.
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Nicola Sturgeon said: “The sacrifices we are all making are undoubtedly having an impact. Collectively, we are suppressing the virus, and lives are being saved as a result. There is, I think, more reason to be optimistic now than perhaps at any time since early autumn. That said, we know we need to take care to avoid sending progress into reverse.”
She told the Scottish Parliament that the cases of Covid-19 still remain 13 times higher than the numbers recorded in mid-August last year. Nicola Sturgeon said: “But we must be sensible – and this can be harder to do when things appear to be going in the right direction – in the decisions we take over the next few weeks if we want to make sure we keep going in the right direction.”
The First Minister went on to confirm that the next phase of reopening education will take place on March 15, which will see primary school children in years four to seven returning to school on a full-time basis. There will also be a phased return to secondary school from this date – with an expectation that all secondary school pupils will be back in school on a full-time basis following the Easter holidays.
Nicola Sturgeon also reported a number of measures being put in place or to be continued in schools such as local authorities continuing to observe the current requirement for 2m physical distancing in secondary schools, at least until the Easter break. She also said that when secondary school students face coverings with need to be worn at all times and all school staff in primary, secondary and special schools, plus all secondary school pupils in years four, five and six will be tested twice a week for coronavirus.
In addition, the First Minister announced that the Public Health Minister will support the return of competitive football. Scotland is also on course to offer a first dose to everyone over 50, all unpaid carers, and all adults with an underlying health condition by mid-April.
Scotland’s First Minister ended her statement by saying: “All of us want to move on as quickly as possible – and, as a priority, to see friends and family again. This will very much be the focus of our considerations over the next few weeks and I hope the day for that is not too far away.
“But to make sure we don’t see any reverse in our progress that would put that in jeopardy, it is really important that, for now, we all need to abide by the lockdown rules. So please continue to stick to their letter and their spirit.”
Regarding the return to Scotland’s level system, Nicola Sturgeon said she hopes to be able to confirm changes to the strategic framework for leaving lockdown next week.