Covid-19 (Next Steps)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th July 2020.

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The First Minister:

First, I associate myself completely with Alison Johnstone’s comments about the tragic death of little Xander Irvine. None of us in the chamber can come close to understanding the heartbreak and devastation that his parents are suffering right now. I saw on social media the pictures of people lining the streets for his funeral this morning, and I think that all of us would struggle to find the words to convey the sense of sympathy that we feel for everybody who loved the little boy. I am sure that the thoughts of everybody in the chamber are with his family today and will be for a long time to come.

Alison Johnstone’s substantive point is important. We absolutely hear and understand the concerns that have been expressed by the Childminding Association.

We are not immediately changing the rule on blended spaces, but it is one that we are reviewing and we are taking scientific advice as we do so. I hope that over the next couple of weeks we will move to change that rule so that children are able to go from one childcare setting to another. However, I hope that Alison Johnstone will understand that, notwithstanding the very real and understandable views that childminders have expressed, we have to do that carefully and on the basis of the best possible evidence.

From memory—I am looking at him to check whether this is correct—in two weeks’ time, the Deputy First Minister will make a statement in the Parliament on education and that will be one of the many matters on which he will update the chamber.