Nicola Sturgeon has reminded Scots that “we are still in a pandemic”, as she urged caution despite Boris Johnson being set to drop the remaining Covid restrictions in England.
The First Minister will provide a coronavirus update at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.
And whilst she said there will be “optimism” around what she will set out, the SNP leader issued a reminder that there are still cases of the virus within society.
It comes as the Prime Minister is due to announce a scrapping of self-isolation rules in England on Monday.
Despite Johnson’s indication that his plan for ‘living with Covid’ will set out a route map for giving people a map back to normality, Sturgeon outlined the need to remain vigilant in the face of the virus.
“There will be a lot of optimism around what I set out tomorrow, but I’ve got to be frank with people, we are still in a pandemic of this virus,” she said.
“We know from past experience that new variants, for example, can come about and cause new challenges.
“So, we need to be vigilant about that and we need to be prepared about that, but we also need to manage that risk in a much less restrictive and more sustainable way for the future, so that we can all get back to normal, retain that sense of normality, even as we maintain that sense of vigilance.
“But I think it’s really important, and you know, it’s for Boris Johnson to set out what he thinks is right for England, but it’s really important that we see certain things as part of what enable us to live with greater normality.”
The First Minister raised concerns about the decision to end self-isolation requirements in England and also warned against any sudden end to current testing arrangements.
She said: “It’s not for me to cast judgment on what Boris Johnson decides to do for England, that’s his right to take the decisions that he thinks [are] right.
“My responsibility is to take the decisions I think are right for Scotland.
“I do not agree with him about the ending of self-isolation for positive cases at this point because that is effectively saying to people, ‘if you’ve got Covid, it’s okay to go and potentially infect others in workplaces and settings elsewhere’.
“I don’t think that is the best way to curb the virus and aid that journey back to normality and I don’t agree with a sudden end to the current testing arrangements.
“I do agree that we need to transition towards something that is more targeted, but I think it’s important that we have a proper, phased approach to that, recognising that we still have a big challenge to face right now.”
Ahead of the First Minister’s statement, Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane called for a “bold, strategic plan” to get the country back as close to normality as possible.
“We must see Nicola Sturgeon outline a detailed roadmap out of the pandemic, with a greater emphasis put on trusting the public to act responsibly,” he said.
“Nicola Sturgeon has often been too quick to introduce restrictions and too cautious when it comes to lifting them.
“Tomorrow, we need to see a bold, strategic plan from her to get the country back on its feet and as close to normality as possible.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie urged the Scottish Government to consider continuing testing for Covid, even if the UK Government chooses not to do so.
“The progress that we are making against the virus is very welcome, but we must remember that this virus has not gone away and we must all remain vigilant to the threat it poses,” she said.
“When the people of Scotland most need co-operation between both of Scotland’s governments, we are faced with the prospect of them taking opposing positions on the easing of restrictions.
“Both governments must make decisions that are grounded in science and in the real world.
“If the UK government does not continue testing, then the Scottish Government must consider doing so in order to help contain the spread of the virus.”