The Scottish Government published on 23 April 2020 its COVID-19: Framework for Decision Making.
We welcome the many positive responses to the Framework. These confirmed widespread support for our approach and principles and offered valuable comments and feedback, which we have drawn upon in preparing this update.
While there are encouraging signs in the latest evidence, the restrictions in place remain vital to suppressing the virus. It will not be possible to lift all the current restrictions at once, or soon. Some will remain part of daily life for the foreseeable future, until a reliable vaccine or treatment becomes available.
We know, however, that the restrictions, vital though they are, are themselves causing harm to people, society and the economy. We are committed to containing and suppressing the virus in order to minimise the harm it can do, and to considering how we can achieve that objective while restoring as much normality to everyday life as possible.
This update is a further contribution to discussion, scrutiny and understanding of our approach within Scotland, in the rest of the UK, and beyond. This includes discussion as part of the Four Nations process within the UK, and with delivery partners and stakeholders in Scotland, as we plan our approach.
We must by law complete our next review of the restrictions currently in place no later than 7 May. We will retain current restrictions while they remain justified, necessary and proportionate, and will not change them unless and until it is safe to do so. On our assessment of the current evidence for Scotland, it is almost certain that no significant change will be possible on 7 May.
We are committed to drawing on expert advice, working together with others and engaging with and listening to the people of Scotland as we continue to develop our response to COVID-19, in line with our approach and principles.
Our approach and principles
As set out in the Framework, our approach is that we will:
- Suppress the virus through compliance with physical distancing and hygiene measures, ensuring that the reproduction number remains below 1 and that our NHS remains within capacity
- Care for those who need it, whether infected by the virus or not
- Support people, business and organisations affected by the crisis
- Recover to a new normal, carefully easing restrictions when safe to do so while maintaining necessary measures and ensuring that transmission remains controlled, supported by developments in medicine and technology
- Protect against this and future pandemics, including through effective testing, contact tracing and isolation
- Renew our country, building a fairer and more sustainable economy and society.
Our approach is set out graphically and described further in Annex B.
The following principles will guide how we make our decisions:
Safe: We will ensure that transmission of the virus remains suppressed and that our NHS and care services are not overwhelmed.
Lawful: We will respect the rule of law which will include ensuring that any restrictions are justified, necessary and proportionate.
Evidence-based: We will use the best available evidence and analysis.
Fair & Ethical: We will uphold the principles of human dignity, autonomy, respect and equality.
Clear: We will provide clarity to the public to enable compliance, engagement and accountability.
Realistic: We will consider the viability and effectiveness of options.
Collective: We will work with our partners and stakeholders, including the UK Government and other Devolved Nations, ensuring that we meet the specific needs of Scotland.