Nicola Sturgeon to defy Boris Johnson strategy as June 21 reopening ‘tricky’ to deliver on

Nicola Sturgeon will be 'gradual' with lockdown ease says expert

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Nicola Sturgeon is to set out the Scottish Government’s route map out of the current national lockdown where immediate priorities will be on the return of young people to education, sports activities for young people and limited social interaction for adults. National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government, Professor Jason Leitch, explained the strategy could be similar to Boris Johnson’s in priority but lacking in dates.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Professor Leitch said: “If you look at what the UK Government has said, it’s actually quite spaced out.

“The five-week gaps between their four phases leads us to four months before the end and more caveated as you get further out and that makes perfect scientific sense.

“Assertion about June 21 is a little bit tricky because we thought we knew stuff in November and then we got a new variant in December.

“We need to be cautious but the order in which they’ve done things schools, children, family, business is roughly what you will hear today because the First Minister kind of said that order out loud.”

Asked whether he could endorse June 21 as a date where all restrictions are lifted, Professor Leitch added: “I can tell you that the opening will be gradual.

“I can tell you it will be staged according to the priorities which both the public health advisors agree with and the decision-makers will make.

“That’s about families first and us getting back to some kind of social normality and then it’s the recovery of the economy.

“Whether we’ll have exact dates like that, you’ve probably heard from the First Minister and other ministers there will be weeks and gaps but you may not get that all bets are off by X.”

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Ms Sturgeon has warned Covid transmission could “go through the roof” if all schoolchildren were allowed back into the classroom at the same time.

The First Minister spoke out as Westminster indicated all youngsters in England can go back to face-to-face learning from March 8.

Scotland has allowed some children back into school from Monday, February 22, but a much smaller number, with nursery youngsters and pupils in the first three years of primary returning, along with a small number of senior high school students who need to do practical work as part of their qualifications.

Asked why the Scottish Government had not taken the same approach as Boris Johnson’s UK administration, Ms Sturgeon said: “If we were to do that right now we would send transmission through the roof again very quickly.”


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The campaign group Us For Them Scotland warned if the Scottish Government did not match the timetable in England, pupils north of the border would be left behind.

Organiser Jo Bisset said: “If Scottish pupils are forced to stay out of school for longer than their English counterparts it will create problems for the future.

“They will be receiving a lower standard of education than the very people they’ll be competing against for jobs and university places.

“The UK Government has hardly been impressive on this issue – but at least parents and children in England now have some clarity and some hope.

“We need to see the same for Scotland.”

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