Sturgeon: No likelihood of lockdown being lifted after Easter

The First Minister says it is 'right and proper' to stick with restrictions for as 'long as is necessary'.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to continue following public health guidance on social distancing over the Easter weekend.

Speaking at a virtual Q&A with Scottish political leaders, the first minister acknowledged the difficulty of the current situation but said it was “important to follow the rules and stay at home”.

“I know how hard it is for people to do that, it will seem even harder over this Easter holiday weekend, especially for families with children and indeed for the children themselves and for older people who would normally be spending time with their grandchildren,” said Sturgeon.

“Please stay in touch with family, friends and loved ones in whatever alternative way best works for you,” she added.

The First Minister was speaking ahead of Thursday afternoon’s emergency Cobra meeting featuring the leaders of the devolved governments.

It will be chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent another night in hospital suffering from Covid-19.

Responding to a question from Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw, Sturgeon said she hoped the UK would emerge from the current lockdown measures in “an orderly way that protects health and is mindful of the other impacts in a unified way”.

She said: “I don’t want these measures to be in place a minute longer than they have to be but equally I don’t want us to come out of them prematurely in a way that will do damage, that will see the virus spiral out of control, see our NHS potentially overwhelmed and see more lives lost, so it is right and proper that we stick with it as long as is necessary.

“And I want to be clear to people, because there is a lot of media speculation, there is no likelihood or prospect of these measures being lifted after the Easter weekend. COBRA is likely to meet again later next week – I certainly support that, to start to think about the exit strategy and what that might look like.

“But it is likely that restrictions and measures are going to be in place for some weeks to come yet. And again I would appeal to people to stick with this; we are not asking people to change their lives in such a fundamental way for no reason,” she added.

The First Minister also said the Scottish Government is working hard to address concerns over the availability and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE).

More than 100 medical professionals have signed an open letter that expresses ‘grave concerns’ over the adequacy of PPE provided to them in the fight against Covid-19.

Medics say they have been given “thin plastic aprons” which cover “very little” of their bodies and surgical masks that don’t protect them from anything airborne, as well as “flimsy” eye cover which does not offer enough protection.

Sturgeon said: “The issue of PPE is of fundamental, paramount importance and we have been working hard to resolve the concerns that people have that roughly fall into the following categories: adequacy of supplies, distribution of those supplies to where they are needed, the guidance we are issuing to workers about what types of equipment they should be using, in what circumstances, and also there have been concerns raised about the quality.

“So, very briefly, we do have adequate supplies, we’re not complacent about that, there are global pressures on that supply, We have taken significant steps to improve distribution and we continue to do that, addressing glitches and concerns where they arise,” she added.

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