Sturgeon: Don’t take us back to lockdown square one

The First Minister urged the public not to go too far as some 'cautious changes' are made to ease restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots not to “take us back to square one” in tackling coronavirus on the day some lockdown measures were eased.

With people from two households now able to meet outdoors, and travel to local beauty spots and outdoor sports such as golf and tennis also permitted, the First Minister called on the public to be responsible

On the relaxation of some restrictions, she said: “They are deliberately, and by necessity, cautious changes and they have been very carefully assessed.”

She repeated remarks from Thursday that she is “nervous” about the modifications to the lockdown, and warned people they must stick within the parameters the Scottish Government has outlined.

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Scotland has now entered phase one of a four-stage plan to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions.

People can sit outside in public spaces, sunbathe, travel locally (ideally not more than five miles) for recreation or exercise and meet members of one other household outside per day, while keeping socially distanced from them.

But indoor meetings with other households are still not allowed, meetings anywhere of more than two households are not allowed and the majority of businesses remain closed.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily press briefing on Friday, the First Minister said bending the new rules could increase transmission of Covid-19 by giving the virus “bridges to jump across”.

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She continued: “We could see the virus spread quickly again and that would take us back to square one.

“I’m not trying to cramp anyone’s fun this weekend… but I am asking you to please do so responsibly.

“I’m appealing to your judgement and to your sense of solidarity with each other.”

Sturgeon added: “However harsh these rules might feel right now, and I know that they do, abiding by them will never, ever be as harsh as grieving the loss of a loved one.”

A total of 15 more people in Scotland with coronavirus have died, taking the death toll including suspected Covid-19 cases to 3840.

But for the seventh day in a row, new confirmed cases of the virus are under 100, with just 39 reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total since the pandemic began to 15,327.

Officials estimate that as of last week there was 19,000 infectious people in Scotland, down from 25,000 the week before.

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There are 22 fewer people in Scottish hospitals with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, down to 1216, with a slight rise of three in the numbers in intensive care, up to 40.

The FM said those attending picnics and barbecues this weekend with one other household should bring their own cups, plates and cutlery, keep two metres apart from the members of the other household and avoid touching any hard surfaces.

You should not go into anyone else’s house, for example, to use their bathroom. If you need go into a house to access a private garden, you should do it quickly and not touch any surfaces.

Non-contact outdoor sports and activities, including golf, tennis, fishing, bowls, water sports and outdoor, one-on-one personal training and coaching can resume, but only if two-metre distancing is observed and you don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk.

Garden centres and plant nurseries can also reopen, while drive-through food and drink outlets can resume work and constructions firms can begin building site preparations.

The First Minister said if people aren’t sure if their specific plans for the weekend are within the rules, they should “err on the side of caution”.

But thanking the public for observing the lockdown to date, she added: “I have never been prouder of this country than I am right now.”

Also speaking at the briefing, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director Jason Leitch urged Scots: “Please don’t take phase one lightly.”

He said Scots should continue to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and maintain good cough and hand hygiene – sneezing or coughing into a tissue or their elbow, and trying to avoid touching your face.

Sturgeon also addressed the future of the manufacturing industry in Scotland as a result of the pandemic.

She said the sector had proven just how important it is, with companies coming forward to help produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser.

The First Minister told the briefing that most of the manufacturing sector will have to remain closed during phase one of the lockdown easing, but they will be allowed to prepare for return to business in phase two.

Sturgeon said: “I’m announcing today that we’re providing an additional £20m of funding for Scotland’s new National Manufacturing Institute (NMI), bringing our total investment to £75m.”

The First Minister also announced that the contract to build the NMI building, which will be operated by the University of Strathclyde, has been awarded.

She said 12 new projects will be funded to help boost small and medium-sized businesses.

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