Routemap laid out but recovery remains in first gear

Cautious first steps out of lockdown have been published by the Scottish Government.

Routemap laid out but recovery remains in first gear Getty Images

As with everything from the First Minister during this pandemic, tone and pitch of message is everything and so it was again today.

At Westminster the emphasis is on how fast England and Wales can emerge from lockdown. In Scotland it has been about the need to stay with the current measures.

The difference in approach may be marginal in a strategic sense but Nicola Sturgeon is careful not to say anything that could be construed as giving a nod and wink to behaviour that could spread the virus.

Today’s routemap is therefore “proportionate and cautious”, each stage traversed in a way that is “gradual and incremental” and all of it the subject of “rigorous monitoring”.

And even that exercise in studied caution came with a warning. If the ‘R number’ increases the FM will not hesitate to slam the breaks on the lifting of lockdown. Anything reckless would mean that there is a “danger of a second wave later in the year”.

‘Test and protect’ is the new mantra as Scotland moves from lockdown to the new normal. If parliamentary scrutiny at Holyrood to date has largely focused on care homes and personal protective equipment, the coming weeks will see opposition MSPs grill ministers on testing capacity and the progress or otherwise that is being made in the ‘test, trace and isolate’ strategy.

Today may have represented a baby step but it is significant in that it may represent the beginning of the end of the old normal.

People will be on the move from the end of next week in a way that they have not been for a couple of months and for businesses the routemap provides a bit more information on when they might be able to start trading, albeit in different circumstances.

The First Minister joked about the need for hairdressers to get back in business. She still looks pretty well groomed up top. Jackson Carlaw’s locks are in need of a trim and the mild-mannered Richard Leonard even has the hint of the wild about him.

This humble scribe has not seen a barber in two months. The garden shears were abandoned on the ground that they represented a present risk to my ears. So I will persevere a little longer until Merchant City Barbers reopens its doors.