Nicola Sturgeon: ‘I can’t be definitive about when restrictions will be lifted’

Nicola Sturgeon reiterated her 'stay at home' plea hours after mainland Scotland went back into full lockdown – and admitted she can’t be certain about when the new restrictions will be lifted.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Tuesday, the First Minister said it may be possible to ease restrictions if the vaccination programme manages to push ahead of the virus in the “race” over the coming months.

She said the health service hopes to vaccinate everyone on the priority list – some 2.7 million people – by early May.

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But Ms Sturgeon admitted it is difficult to be definitive about when the restrictions will be lifted.

Rush Hour at Hermiston Gait J1 of M8 in to Edinburgh is deserted as people stay home under new lockdown travel restrictions.
Rush Hour at Hermiston Gait J1 of M8 in to Edinburgh is deserted as people stay home under new lockdown travel restrictions.

“I described it yesterday as a race: we’ve got the vaccines in one lane – we’re trying to accelerate that.

“We’ve got the virus, which has just learned to run faster, in the other lane, and we’ve got to slow it down.”

She continued: “Lockdown is about trying to slow down the virus and push rates of it back down.

“Now, if we manage to do that, then hopefully we will be able to start lifting some of these restrictions while the vaccination programme is ongoing, even in that first phase of it.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“But I can’t be certain about that yet, because it’s dependent on us managing to get the levels of infection down.”

The First Minister told GMS that Scotland will have access to 900,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of January.

Ms Sturgeon said current expectations are that everyone in Scotland over 50 and those under 50 with underlying health conditions, some 2.7 million people, will have been given at least one dose by May.

On the subject of the Scottish Parliament election in May, Ms Sturgeon said she can see “no reason” why it should not go ahead.

She told GMS: “I see no reason at this stage why the election wouldn’t go ahead.

“I think everybody would agree it’s really important that our democratic processes continue and that elections happen.

“There have been elections in many other countries over the course of the pandemic.”

She added that Holyrood has recently passed contingency legislation setting out alternative options for the election but any changes will be agreed on a cross-party basis with the Presiding Officer.

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