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:

Willie Rennie is right to say that it is possible—although it is not certain or inevitable—that we might be in different phases for different things. The document is very explicit about that. In all of this, the need for clear public communication will be even more important than it was last time around, and we are very mindful of that.

It is not for me to decide parliamentary business, but I would welcome a debate in the Parliament on the document and how we best pitch the messages going forward. At the moment, through phase 1, the default message is still to stay at home. We have an expanding list of reasons why people can leave home, but that default message to stay at home as much as possible is still important. As we go through the phases, we will keep that under review because it is important that the messages that we are giving people have a relationship to the way in which we are asking and expecting people to live their lives. Therefore, the input of the Parliament on such considerations would be very welcome.

On healthcare, I want to move faster through every stage if we possibly can, but probably in no area more than in resuming health procedures that have been postponed. We set out a careful, phased way in the document. We have to make sure that we are doing things safely and that, as we resume things, we do not take our eye off the potential need later this year for significant hospital capacity to deal with coronavirus. I am not trying to scare or depress people, but if I have a fear right now, it is that people are starting to think that this is over. Hopefully, this phase is drawing to a close, but the risk of a second wave of the virus later this year is real, and we cannot take our eye off that. Therefore, we need to get the balance right. “Balance” is a word that I use repeatedly at the moment, but we will try to do as much as we can as early as we can, guided always by the science and the different considerations that we have to bear in mind.