Covid-19 Lockdown: Next Steps

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

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The First Minister:

On the first part of Alison Johnstone’s question, I will continue to do what I have tried to do throughout this, which is to resist all and any provocation to be party political about it. I do not think that it is appropriate in these circumstances.

All of us are trying to do the best we can. We will come to different decisions along the way, and I hope that we come to those different decisions for the right reasons. Every leader of every Government anywhere in the world—well, there may be some exceptions to that—is trying to do the best that they possibly can. That is what I will continue to do, as well as keeping politics—as far as possible—completely out of the equation.

We will be debating the issues around testing—what we did and did not do and what we should and should not have done—perfectly legitimately for a long time, and I accept that.

We set out early on the plans to build testing capacity. I remember talking in Parliament at a very early stage about our priorities for testing in this phase, which were to protect the sickest and most vulnerable, to ensure that we tested key workers and to have surveillance and monitoring. We have also set out our plans for test, trace and isolate and will continue to do so. It is really important that those plans are aligned with the steps that we are taking to ease lockdown and with what we have sought to build into the heart of the route map that we published today.

The public have been truly magnificent in how they have complied with the restrictions, and my final point is an appeal to them to continue to do it for a little bit longer. If we see a regression between now and next week, I will not be able to introduce the changes that I have talked about today, and I do not want to be in that position.

I almost felt like crying when I saw the pictures of Portobello beach yesterday. I know why people felt the need to do that and I completely sympathise. However, every time people get together in ways that provide opportunities for this virus, we risk the progress that we have made together. I appeal to people to stick with the restrictions for a bit longer so that we can work through these phases much quicker and get back to the normality that all of us so badly crave.