Covid-19 Lockdown: Next Steps

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 21st May 2020.

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The First Minister:

Both Police Scotland and local authorities are central to our planning and discussions. Rightly, both take part in the Scottish Government’s regular resilience meetings and both make a valuable contribution. Police Scotland will continue to have a role as we go through the phases of lockdown but, as we do that, we will inevitably move from having rules and regulations to having more of what we are asking the public to do contained in guidance. That balance is already there, but it will change as we go through the coming weeks. Therefore, there may be less of what we are asking people to do that is legally enforceable by the police, but it is important that, while there are regulations that are enforceable, the police continue to have an input in advising us on the enforceability of everything that we do. Police Scotland already does that and it will continue to do so.

It is important that the public understand what they are legally required to do and what we are asking them to exercise judgment about. Local authorities have a key part to play, both with businesses and individuals. To take one example, we have been working with local authorities in the past couple of weeks on the reopening of waste and recycling centres, and there will be many other examples where we will be working with them.

There is no risk-free path ahead of us right now—everything that we do and do not do comes with risks. My job as the leader of the Government, and the job of the whole Government and all of society, is to find the best balance in mitigating those risks so that we can get back to normal but without allowing the virus to run riot again, because that will cost more lives. That is not a risk that I am prepared to take.