By Bill Heaney

Nicola Sturgeon warned this morning that there is still a “very significant risk” that coronavirus “could run out of control again”.

Which begs the question: Why then has Scotland been allowed out of lock-down?

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, the first minister said Scotland is “moving very cautiously” in easing lockdown restrictions.

Ms Sturgeon also said there should be a clear distinction between politicians making decisions and scientists advising.

She has always said that she took full responsibility for decisions affecting Scotland.

It was elected officials who should take responsibilities and not scientists, she said.

The FM felt “deep personal regret” over the number of people dying in Scottish care homes and was making the hardest decisions of her career.

Ms Sturgeon was given an easy ride on Sophy Ridge’s programme, but Tory Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, who was standing in for PM Boris Johnston, was asked why there had there been a lifting of lockdown restrictions [in England] when, according to the government’s own Covid Alert Level ‘traffic light’ system, which applies in Scotland, the UK is still currently at level four.

Mr Raab told Andrew Marr, unconvincingly it has to be said, that “we are transitioning from four to three” and the reason some lockdown measures have been lifted is because medical and scientific advice suggests the government’s five targets have been met.

Some critics have said that’s like jumping out of a car before it has finally come to a halt.

It was plain from the chart showing the five measures that it was still stuck at number 4, which advises that no lockdown measures should be lifted until the number comes down to 3.

Only then and with the R number lower than one would it be advisable to ease the lockdown.

Mr Raab said says weekly data published on Friday shows the number of new cases are down by 800, the number of Covid-19 patients in critical care is down by 200, and number of deaths is down by 27.

“Because we have made that progress steadily, slowly, surely means we can take the steps we are taking,” he adds.

“But we will have to take further restrictive measures if we find any uptick in the virus.”

Nicola Sturgeon said people’s quality of life was every bit as important as restarting the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, scientific advisers have made it plain that they that we are still very much in the middle of this pandemic.

“Unlocking too fast carries a great risk that all the good work… may be lost, Professor Peter Openshaw from NERVTAG told Andrew Marr.

He added that there was “deep concern” among scientists and “we need to take this slowly”.

Professor Openshaw’s message was that lifting lockdown now was too early while back in March, it had been lifted too late.

The first minister said she was trying to strike a balance between the two after more than nine weeks of lockdown.

But Professor Openshaw, although he didn’t say it in so many words, said that life itself was more important than quality of life and that protecting it should be the first priority of any government.

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland would stay on a “slow and steady” route out of restrictions.

Scotland is in its third day of eased restrictions with people able to meet with friends and family outside.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government was committed to taking a cautious approach because it was clear coronavirus had not gone away.

She added: “It’s important to get the economy going as soon as it is safe to do so but I also think it is important we recognise the things that matter most to people’s quality of life, and that is family, friendship and love.

“These are all things people have had to sacrifice over the past couple of months.”

Ms Sturgeon said that because the virus “could run out of control again” there was a limit on the restrictions that could be lifted just now and it “would be wrong” to use all of that flexibility to just get the economy moving again.

She added that she wanted to avoid a situation where, “people are being told they have to go back to work and they remain in lockdown for the rest of the time – that would not give very much quality of life to people”.

Ms Sturgeon also said there should be a clear distinction between politicians making decisions and scientists advising.

The first minister reiterated that changes that mean vulnerable people in England who have been asked to remain at home (shielding) will be able to go outdoors again do not apply in Scotland.

Meanwhile, anyone in Scotland with symptoms of Covid-19 should take “immediate steps” to be tested.

They and their household should then self-isolate until the results of the test are known.

If the test is positive, people will need to provide the details of everyone they have had contact with.


  1. The Tory Government appear to have reverted to their original plan of “herd immunity”.

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