This was another sensitively scripted and carefully pitched performance from the First Minister as she announced that Scotland could move to phase one of lifting lockdown.
The evidence justifying the move is clear, the downward trend in infections is “sustained and unmistakable” and that all important ‘R’ number has been below one for the last three weeks.
From an understanding (mostly) and impatient public, today will be greeted with a sense of relief. Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged that relief and encouraged people to enjoy the lifting of restrictions. But she was also quick with the caveats.
“I feel a bit nervous,” she said.
Why the nerves?
The First Minster is concerned the natural emotion that will be the hallmark of reunions that can now take place will foster a sense that the changes announced are greater than they actually are. Her plea, therefore, was as important as her central message – ‘Please, please, respect the parameters’.
The focus of this change is outdoor activity and the messages around social distancing remain in place. With a weekend of good weather on the horizon the appeal was for the public to understand the rules aimed at minimising risk and to behave accordingly.
That means bringing your own food and utensils to a barbecue if you are planning to meet friends from another household. And make sure it is only one other household, remain outside and keep your distance. Don’t head to island communities and use your common sense; the greater the gatherings and the closer the contact the greater the risk of infection.
Today also marks the beginning of the test and protect policy. If people are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms they can now book a test in another step change in the battle to further reduce the spread of the virus.
Today represented the “baby steps” the government has spoken about. In the overall picture this is a small step but a giant leap compared to weeks ago, if I can borrow a piece of Neil Armstrong phraseology.
Sturgeon talked about love, kindness and solidarity. That could serve as a nationwide motto of recent weeks. But she also spoke of her nerves. So to love, kindness and solidarity let’s add care which should manifest itself in sound judgements in the behavioural choices in the coming weeks.
Enjoy the weekend, breathe in the joy of renewed acquaintances but above all, stay safe.