Lockdown longer, some pupils back but Easter off – First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon

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There will be no sudden lifting of lockdown in Scotland as seen last summer as the First Minister warned today that the Scottish Government would be driven much more by data than ‘arbitrary dates’.

In an update to parliament on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said ‘100 per cent normality’ was unlikely for quite some time.

She said it was ‘very likely’ the government would be advising against booking Easter breaks in Scotland or overseas because it was ‘highly unlikely’ its accommodation sector would be open by then.

In summer, it was ‘highly unlikely’ overseas holidays would be ‘possible or advisable’, she said, although staycations ‘might be’.

She explained the concern relates to ‘new variants’ of coronavirus requiring another lockdown in Scotland later in the year and a lack of evidence about how Covid is transmitted after people have had the vaccine.

Miss Sturgeon said: ‘I know this is difficult given that all of us are desperate to get back to something closer to normality, but if we open up too quickly to meet arbitrary dates we do risk setting our progress back.

‘Indeed, because of the new more infectious variant, our exit from lockdown is likely to be even more cautious than it was last summer.

‘Probably for a while yet, 100 per cent normality is unlikely to be possible. In a world where we can’t do everything immediately we will need to decide what matters most to us.’

She said children’s education and wellbeing was an ‘over-riding’ priority and may be the ‘trade off’ people have to make to stick with restrictions for longer.

A new framework for emerging from lockdown will be published next week.

Pre-school children and pupils in primaries 1, 2 and 3 will return from Monday along with a part-time return for certain senior pupils to allow in-school practical work for the completion of National Qualification courses.

The second phase of school reopening is planned in a fortnight.

In a message to other parents, Miss Sturgeon said: ‘We think it unlikely at this stage that there will be any further return to school before March 15.’

She added: ‘If we want to return as much normality as we can to life within Scotland, we need to live for a longer period with significant restrictions on our ability to travel overseas.

‘We know we cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely so we do need to balance all of the different factors and plan a gradual, phased return to as much normality as possible as quickly as possible, and that’s what the government is now focussed on doing.’