Covid-19 Lockdown: Next Steps

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

Alert me about debates like this

The First Minister:

Before I come on to test and protect, I will finish the point about making sure that workers have confidence that workplaces are safe. Police Scotland has been mentioned, but it is also worth mentioning that we will continue to work with the Health and Safety Executive and regulators, where necessary, to provide that assurance. I have been, and will continue to be, cautious and will not move into phase 1 until the end of next week at the earliest, because I want to align our lifting of lockdown with our ability to implement a substantial, significant test and protect operation. We will be able to do that from the end of next week in every health board area in the country.

The plans for that are not lagging behind. They are moving at pace. The health secretary confirmed at the weekend that health boards have already identified 600 individuals who are ready to do that. We will have a capacity of 2000 in place by the end of this month. We have the testing capacity that we need for that. I appreciate that testing is important in every phase, but it is important not to look at the reasons for, the demand for, and the purpose of testing now and equate that with testing in the test and protect phase. They fulfil the same purpose, but they are different phases.

The plans are in place. They will continue to bed down and to develop and they must be flexible, because the number of tests and of contact tracers that we will need will depend on the prevalence of the virus at any time. We must keep it as suppressed as possible. Also, at times when we may see a resurgence, even in local areas, we must have the ability to adapt that capacity to cope. It is a crucial part of what we are doing, but it must sit as part of an overall approach that involves all of us physically distancing and following all other relevant advice.