Scotland must ‘adapt to a new reality’

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Scotland will have to “adapt to a new reality” even as coronavirus lockdown measures begin to be lifted, the government has said.

A new document has been published outlining the basis of an exit strategy from social distancing restrictions.

No dates have been set for the lockdown measures to be lifted, and the paper says some will have to stay in place.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would take “some time”, but “ultimately we will come through this challenge”.

She said the lockdown currently remained “absolutely necessary to suppress the virus, protect our health service and save lives”.

The UK has been in lockdown since 23 March, with the aim of limiting the spread of Covid-19 and reducing pressure on the NHS.

The paper says Scotland will not be able to “immediately return to how things were”, instead targeting a “managed transition away from current restrictions” while still suppressing the virus.

It says: “We will need people in Scotland to continue to live their lives in ways that minimise the spread of the virus So even as we lift some of the more restrictive measures, better hand hygiene and appropriate physical distancing will need to remain in place at home, on the streets and in the workplace.”

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The eventual lifting of lockdown will be phased, with pubs and mass gatherings not likely to open again until later in the process.

The paper says: “We are likely to require that gathering in groups, for example in pubs or at public events, is banned or restricted for some time to come.”

And it warns that if transmission of the virus cannot be controlled, lockdown may have to be reinstated “with little notice”.

Ms Sturgeon said talk of lifting the lockdown “like the flick of a switch” was “misguided”, saying: “A return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future.”

She said Scotland would have to find a “new normal”, which involved “living alongside the virus in a form which keeps it under control”.

And the first minister said it was impossible to know with certainty what the long-term impact of decisions would be, meaning a flexible approach will be needed.

At Wednesday’s government briefing, Ms Sturgeon said a further 58 deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus had been recorded, bringing the total under that measure to 1,120.

However she said there were “very encouraging” falls in the number of patients in hospital and intensive care.

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