Scotland lockdown: Tiers on roadmap for easing – everything we know so far – The Independent

Nicola Sturgeon has announced Scotland’s “progressive easing” out of lockdown, with the majority of businesses scheduled to reopen in the last week of April.

Before then, though, there will be changes made to social distancing measures in March, at which time all schools could well reopen too. A phased return to schools began in the country on Monday.

The first minister said Scottish people must continue to “rely very heavily” on government measures to continue suppressing the virus for “a bit longer”.

She also called the country’s approach “deliberately cautious”, similar to words Boris Johnson used when detailing England’s equivalent plans on Monday.

So, what does Scotland’s journey out of lockdown look like? Here’s what you need to know.

What restrictions will be lifted first?

15 March: Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that four people from two households will be allowed to meet outdoors. This is also when Scotland’s primary and secondary schools could all reopen, a week after England’s, though not all students will return to classrooms at the same time.

5 April: Scotland “hopes” to lift the current stay-at-home restriction, which was worked into law, but this will depend on the data that comes out of measures being eased in March. By this point, the final phase of children returning to school would also take place, as would the reopening of communal worship.

Last week of April (26-30): Scotland will return to a regional, five-level system from the last week in April “if virus suppression continues”.

“It is therefore from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers,” Ms Sturgeon announced to Scottish parliament.

Travel restrictions in Scotland will remain for “some time yet”, she added, stressing it is important that cases of the virus, particularly of new variants of the virus, are not imported into the country.

The first minister said more detail would be given in mid-March, including the order in which parts of the economy will reopen and what summer in Scotland might look like “when we hope to be living with much greater freedoms than we are today”.

What is the science behind the decision?

Unveiling the revised road map out of lockdown, the SNP leader told MSPs lockdown would ease in phases, separated by at least three weeks and contingent on suppression of the virus continuing.

As in England, ministers and scientists will scrutinise data at each intended stage of easing restrictions – allowing the evidence to lead decision making.

While Ms Sturgeon said she hoped to give “as much clarity as possible” on Tuesday, she added she wanted to avoid “giving false assurance or picking arbitrary dates that have no grounding at this stage in any objective assessment”.

She continued: “I am as confident as I can be that the indicative, staged timetable that I have set out today – from now until late April when the economy will start to substantially reopen – is a reasonable one.”

Later, while taking questions from fellow MSPs, Ms Sturgeon criticised Mr Johnson for setting an “aspirational” get-out-of-lockdown date in England.

“I would love to stand here and say that by 21 June we’ll all be back to normal,” she said, “but I can’t say that with any certainty at all.”