Any end date for Covid restrictions now ‘would be made up’

Nicola Sturgeon addressed the announcement of June 21 as a possible date for the end of restrictions in England.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she would be “making it up” if she gave a specific date for the end of Covid-19 restrictions.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Wednesday, Sturgeon addressed the announcement of June 21 as a possible date for the end of restrictions in England.

In setting out her government’s plans on Tuesday for easing the lockdown, the First Minister did not give a similar date.

The Scottish Conservatives accused Sturgeon of giving people “next to no hope”.

She told the briefing: “If I was to give you a fixed, hard and fast date right now, I would pretty much be making it up and I don’t think that’s the approach I should take with you.

“I’m not ruling out any specific dates. I want it to be as soon as possible and we have every reason to be hopeful that come the summer life will be much, much, much better than it is just now, but when I stand here and give you what I think the actual date when all or most restrictions will come to an end is going to be, I want to be as sure as I can be that is real and it can be delivered.”

Boris Johnson set June 21 as a possible date for the end of restrictions in England.Getty Images
Boris Johnson set June 21 as a possible date for the end of restrictions in England.

Sturgeon added: “I don’t just understand the frustrations that people have, I feel those frustrations.

“As has been the case all along, I’ll have to take decisions that sometimes you agree with and sometimes you disagree with, but I can assure you that the Scottish Government will continue to do our very best to lead the country as quickly but also as safely and sustainably through this horrible ordeal and out the other side of it.”

Speaking after confirming Scotland has recorded 47 deaths from coronavirus and 798 positive tests in the past 24 hours, she said the Scottish Government’s updated framework for easing restrictions focuses on the next six weeks as “that’s the timeframe that right now we can be most confident about”.

The First Minister said there is uncertainty over how the more infectious virus strain will behave once restrictions are lifted and the impact of the phased return to schools will be particularly scrutinised in this regard.

She said: “My hope is that the more we learn about the impact of the early changes, the more confidence we will then have that we can go further and faster, without risking a resurgence of the virus that would set us all back. In the meantime, we will move forward carefully.”

She also announced care homes should be supporting up to two named visitors for each resident from March 1, where possible, and Scottish Government guidance on this “very important way forward” will be published on Wednesday.

Sturgeon gave a further update on the daily coronavirus figures, announcing the daily test positivity rate is 3.9%, down from 4.8% on Tuesday.

There are 1018 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 58 in 24 hours, and there was no change in those in intensive care which remains at 93.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The First Minister seems to be rattled by the backlash to her plans.

“Nicola Sturgeon gave people next to no hope of when restrictions would ease and now she’s having to furiously backtrack. She seems to be on the verge of a climb-down over her lockdown plan already.

“After Scottish Conservative calls for a u-turn on the slow school reopening, she dodged questions about return dates.

“She’s now suggesting the loosening of restrictions to level 2 might happen earlier and, in another masterclass of political spin, trying to rewrite history and claim that was the plan all along.

“When people just want a clear message of hope and certainty, they’re getting less clarity and more confusion from the First Minister.”