2. Review and Assessment
Review of COVID-19 Regulations
A number of rules for physical distancing and restrictions on activity are currently in place to tackle the public health emergency. These include legal requirements set out in The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 as well as guidance or advice to the public issued by the Scottish Government.
Many of these match those across the rest of the UK. However, some are specific to Scotland. The table at Annex A lists the measures currently in place. Further detailed guidance is available online.
The COVID-19 regulations must be reviewed every three weeks. This ensures that they remain proportionate to the need to tackle this public health emergency, and the absolute necessity of suppressing the virus, but also recognises the broader harms to health, the economy and society that are the side-effects of these measures. The final day in the current three-week cycle is this Thursday, 7th May. This coincides with the final review date for the UK Government and the dates for the other Devolved Administrations fall at or close to this time.
The following three-week cycle ends on 28th May. Consistent with the legislation, changes can be made before that date, and of course after that date, if the assessment indicates that is the right thing to do: the regulations should only be in place for as long as required.
The Scottish Government participates in the UK Four Nations process that facilitates collective decision making and shares expert advice. While alignment of decision-making will often make sense, on occasion, expert advice may point to the need for different approaches across the UK reflecting specific circumstances in each country or to different optimal timings for changing restrictions across the varied geography of the UK. On such occasions, the Scottish Government will consider the appropriate course of action to best meet Scotland's specific needs and circumstances.
In line with our commitment to transparency, based on the current evidence for Scotland, this update indicates that it is almost certain that no significant change will be possible on 7th May and the lockdown will be extended. This position will be confirmed when we formally review the position on 7th May.
The Framework for Decision Making set out our assessment framework. Our first objective and absolute necessity is to contain and suppress the virus. Beyond that, our challenge is to minimise broader harm to our health, society and economy and to restore as much normality to everyday life as possible.
This update describes the advice we shall draw upon in assessing possible options for changes to the current restrictions. We will shortly publish a supporting evidence paper that sets out some of the analysis that we use to inform these assessments.
In making these assessments, Scottish Ministers have access to expertise from a range of professional advisers and expert groups, both within and beyond the Scottish Government. These include, within government, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the Chief Social Policy Adviser and the Chief Economic Adviser. In addition, Ministers' judgments are informed by advice and oversight from other professional advisers including the National Clinical Director, Chief Scientific Adviser, Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Statistician, and the Solicitor to the Scottish Government.
Beyond the Scottish Government, Ministers have access to the CMO's Advisory Group on the epidemiology and public health impacts of the virus, and to expert advisory groups as part of the Four Nations response to COVID-19, including the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE). We also have expert advisory groups in fields such as the economy and education that we are able to draw upon. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has offered to contribute its services, resources, expertise and knowledge, both in the immediate response to COVID-19 and in considering the wider socio-economic recovery.
The Scottish Government continues to engage with its resilience partners, including Police Scotland, other first responder organisations and local government represented by COSLA and SOLACE, in order to plan and implement its response to COVID-19. This informs our assessment by helping us to understand how changes would be implemented in practice.
We continue to engage with the Four Nations response to COVID-19 and we are following, engaging with and learning from the measures being taken in other parts of Europe and around the world, to ensure that we learn from their experience.
The Scottish Government is engaging with many other groups, businesses, unions and organisations across Scotland. We are grateful for their engagement and contributions. Together, these help to ensure that our response is safe, lawful, evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear, realistic and collective.