Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th January 2021.

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The First Minister:

The exit strategy now is the vaccine—it is a very definite exit strategy that we have not had before. Therefore, the quicker we can get people vaccinated, the more we can get back to normal. If the restrictions that we are living under right now help us to suppress the spread, as we hope they will, we would hope to be able to lift some of them, even as we are vaccinating. Unlike in March, the vaccine gives us a definite exit strategy that we lacked back then.

On the point about where the virus spreads, we have all been desperate over the past 10 months—I include myself in this—to think that there are some complicated answers to the problem and that, if we can just crack them, we will have the solution. As I have come to realise, the science at the heart of the matter is actually not that complicated: the virus spreads when individuals come together, and it hops from one person to another and then goes from one household to another. Whether it is in cars, bars, workplaces or our homes, the way to stop it spreading, unfortunately—this is the hard and cruel part—is to stop the interaction between us and to keep essential interactions on as safe a basis as possible. Basically, that is the science and the epidemiology at the heart of the issue, and that is what drives the restrictions that we are unfortunately having to put in place.