Requirements to wear face coverings and follow social distancing will continue for some time after Scotland moves to level zero restrictions, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon made the comments during a Covid-19 briefing today (Thursday) ahead of her expected announcement to Holyrood next week on the proposals to ease restrictions on 19th July.
The date had provisionally been mooted for Scotland’s widespread move to level zero restrictions, which have been in effect in Shetland since early June.
And despite the growing numbers of cases in Scotland over recent weeks, Ms Sturgeon said she “very much hoped we will be able to move ahead as planned”.
In stark contrast to the UK government’s announcements for “Freedom Day”, however, Ms Sturgeon said the move to level zero would not mean the total ending of all restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that the legal requirement to wear face coverings and social distancing would be scrapped.
He said it was a “move away from legal restrictions” and would instead allow people “to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus”.
Ms Sturgeon, however, said the UK government’s approach was “something of an exception”.
“So while I total understand the desire to follow suit in every respect, we have to think carefully about the steps we take,” she said.
“My job is not to take the easy decisions in quest for popularity it’s to do what is most like to keep the country as safe as possible.”
While recognising the need to remove restrictions, Ms Sturgeon said that did not meant “throwing all caution to the wind” and no longer worrying about rising case numbers.
Ms Sturgeon said that no matter what decision was made about level zero there would not be any “abrupt end” to the all protective measures.
“These are going to be important mitigations for protecting ourselves and others from the virus for some time yet,” she said..
While Ms Sturgeon said new case numbers were a concern, she noted the latest figures indicated the recent surge had begun to level off.
She also said the continued progress with the vaccination programme was grounds for optimism.
She urged people to get both jags as soon as possible and also to take regular tests, particularly when visiting others.