Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the coronavirus lockdown is working and urged Scots to stick with it despite guidance changing in England.
The First Minister addressed the nation to underline the Scottish Government’s ‘stay at home’ message after some restrictions were eased south of the border by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
She said the “progress was real” in the fight against coronavirus, but warned that it was “fragile”.
Covid-19 has so far claimed around 3000 lives in Scotland, including suspected deaths from the virus, with more than 13,500 positive cases.
Lockdown came into force seven weeks ago and the pressure on the NHS is beginning to ease, with the daily death toll falling and fewer people in hospital.
Sturgeon said: “We are asking you to stick with lockdown a bit longer.”
She added: “I want to make sure that as we take each step on the path to recovery, the ground beneath us is as solid as possible.
“But I will not keep these restrictions in place longer than necessary.”
Speaking from Edinburgh, the First Minister thanked Scotland’s residents for following strict regulations and said she was “proud” of children who haven’t been to school or seen grandparents for nearly two months.
In Scotland, only essential travel is allowed for work and food shopping, alongside unlimited outdoor exercise.
However, in England, measures have eased to allow more people to return to work and spend time with friends.
Sturgeon insisted the scientific data told her that this wasn’t yet possible in Scotland.
She said: “Seven weeks ago the virus was spreading out of control – today it is in retreat.”
The First Minister also praised health workers for their efforts and said the NHS had not been “overwhelmed”.
Detailed talks were ongoing, Sturgeon said, with employers, public transport operators and schools to make sure they were safe to return to when lockdown measures are lifted.
She said: “It is vital when we do ask you to return to work or school you have clarity about what we are asking you to do and also confidence it is safe.”