Annex B: Our Approach to transitioning through and exiting from the crisis
The diagram below depicts our approach to transitioning through and exiting from the crisis as described in the COVID-19: Framework for Decision Making. It is a simplified representation. We will update it as timings and other factors become clearer.
The future is uncertain and the diagram shows just one potential scenario, with key timings and future developments uncertain. It shows the possible increase in the transmission of the virus some months ahead. We are not planning for this to happen, but we will be ready to deal with it should it occur.
Throughout this approach, our decisions, choices and actions will contain risk. These risks must be understood and carefully managed by us all in our daily lives as we move to a 'new normal'. We recognise that people, businesses and organisations need to be able to plan for the future. We will introduce more certainty to future timescales and phases when the evidence for Scotland enables us to do.
Our initial priority, and the essential for all our future decisions, is to contain and suppress the virus. That means both reducing the number of cases to very low levels and controlling the spread of the virus (keeping R below 1). We are already doing this through a range of physical distancing restrictions and improved hygiene requirements.
If people do not comply with these restrictions and requirements then we will not achieve the desired suppression of the virus and would need to keep restrictions in place for longer or introduce new ones. And if compliance weakens at a future point then, as shown, this could potentially cause an increase in transmission in the future and could lead to the re-imposition of restrictions to suppress the virus once more.
People suffering from COVID-19 in Scotland must receive the care they need. To ensure this, we have increased NHS capacity, necessarily delayed non-essential health interventions and adjusted the delivery of some health services. People must still receive the emergency healthcare they need and our health services remain open to support and care for them. We will bring back deferred NHS capacity as soon as it is safe to do so.
To protect our people from the virus, both now and in the future, we are expanding our testing capacity. Once the virus is suppressed to low numbers of cases, we will implement a 'test, trace, isolate and support' approach to ensure that the virus remains controlled.
This, along with continued hygiene and necessary distancing measures, will enable us to cautiously recover our way of life to a new normal, re-opening our workplaces and school with safe practices - with redesigned processes, services and spaces - when it is safe to do so and we can be confident that the virus will remain suppressed.
In the meantime, we know how difficult the restrictions and broader impacts of the crisis are: no-one will be unaffected. Consequently, working with partners in the public and third sector, we have put in place an unprecedented range of support for people, businesses and other organisations.
We will harness developments in treatments and vaccines when the scientific advice tells us it is safe to do so. But we do not know if or when these will be available. We hope it will be sooner than shown but we will not count on them in our planning.
When the virus is suppressed, and with continued necessary protections and restrictions in place, we will move to a 'new normal' way of living. With that comes the potential to harness the best of our society and our public services that has been demonstrated amid the suffering of the crisis, and to renew our country, looking towards a fairer and more sustainable future beyond the crisis.