First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP has set out the route map for easing Scotland out of the lockdown imposed to minimise deaths from COVID-19.
These are difficult times and will continue to be so, but if we comply with rules as we ease out of lockdown, the sooner we can move to the next phase.
The plan to ease lockdown – it will not be lifted in the near future – consists of five phases, the first of which commenced on 28 May. Phase 1 includes more outdoor activity being permitted and being able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas. You will also be able to meet people from another household, although initially in small numbers, while outside. This change will particularly benefit those without gardens and make the lockdown more bearable for those who live on their own.
Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities will also be allowed to restart, such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing, subject of course to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.
This will be a welcome tonic for those who haven’t had any face-to-face interaction with friends or family over the past two months. It will also be great for grandparents to see grandchildren, even though they too will have to maintain a safe, two metre distance between them. In addition, people will be able to travel, preferably by walking or cycling, to a nearby location for recreation.
Waste and recycling services resume from 01 June, as will many outdoor businesses, such as agriculture and forestry.
In June, staff return to school to begin preparations and make adjustments for the new school year, beginning on August 11. Parents will be able to access childcare as child-minding services and outdoor nursery provision resume.
Scottish Ministers are working with local authorities, trades unions, parent groups and others in education to ensure our schools will be safe. There will be clear guidance, with most pupils having a blend of school and home learning to allow for ongoing social distancing. Details are at: https://www.gov.scot/news/schools-to-re-open-in-august/
I want to thank parents, carers and teachers who are working hard to ensure children continue to learn during the lockdown and also thank the young people themselves. I know how difficult it has been for them not to be able to attend school and meet up with friends.
The First Minister also indicated that during Phase 1, she will no longer discourage take-away and drive-through food outlets from reopening, although non-essential indoor shops and indoor cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed for the time-being.
Working from home remains the default position for those who can. For workplaces that are reopening, employers should encourage staggered start times and flexible working with social distancing in place.
Some paused NHS services will gradually resume and you should contact your GP, NHS 24 or 999 if in need of medical assistance or treatment.
Details of later phases and the criteria we will need to meet, are set out in the route map out of lockdown can be accessed at: https://www.gov.scot
Please rest assured that Scotland will only move into each phase after careful consideration and on the basis of evidence. Monitoring will take place and formal reviews regularly carried out.
It’s important to stress that while permitted reasons to be out of the house will increase, the default message during phase one will remain Stay at Home. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we all continue to comply with lockdown restrictions. Moving into Phase 1 does not mean the lockdown is lifted but it is a big step nearer.