We've come a long way since we published the Route Map back in May. Since then we have carefully changed the lockdown measures following the Route Map phases. Our decisions have been informed by the evidence on our progress in suppressing the epidemic and by our increasing understanding of how the virus spreads and how we can best respond. This careful, evidence-based approach has allowed us to gradually resume a range of key activities. It has helped to alleviate some of the broader harms of the crisis while continuing to suppress the virus to the much reduced levels we see today.
As we move into Phase 3, it's important that we all recognise that the virus has not gone away. As we have seen in other parts of the world, when given the chance, it can re-establish itself quickly. No matter how carefully we open up, it is likely that the virus will find potential opportunities to spread. Our collective actions to prevent that happening, like wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces and following FACTS, remain essential.
A staged approach to Phase 3
Progression through the phases of the Route Map depends on meeting a range of criteria including conditions set by the World Health Organisation – to ensure that we do not further ease restrictions unless it is safe to do so. The substantial progress that we have collectively made in Scotland, by following the relevant rules and guidance, has enabled us to meet the conditions to progress to Phase 3.
As in Phase 2, we are introducing the changes over Phase 3 in stages. It is important to recognise that some important restrictions and public health measures will remain in place throughout Phase 3 to help to keep us safe, protect others and save lives. It will not, and should not, feel like a return to normal life yet. An updated Route Map table setting out the changes that will take place is set out below. Our continued, positive progress has allowed us to move slightly faster in making several changes – with necessary mitigations being put in place. A number of Phase 3 changes continue to be held back for the time being, with dates to be confirmed later in the phase. We understand the disappointment that this may cause and remain determined to ease restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.
It's everyone's responsibility
During Phase 3, the various changes that are due to come into effect will result in larger numbers of people moving around and coming together across a variety of settings and sectors, both indoors and outdoors. This will give the virus more opportunities to spread. There is a risk of outbreaks and while we should strive to avoid them, we must also prepare for them and our Test & Protect system will help us to contain them. Staying safe and keeping others safe is as important as ever which is why, for example, we have made face coverings mandatory on public transport and in shops. And it is especially important to be considerate of people whose health conditions mean that they haven't been able to enjoy the easing of restrictions that the rest of the population has benefited from.
To prevent spread of the virus we should all follow the FACTS. It is the sum of our individual actions, our collective endeavour, that is suppressing the virus.
Avoid crowded places.
Clean hands regularly.
Two metre distance.
Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.
An update for shielding people and those at increased risk
We recognise that many of those shielding are eager to start following these relaxations but also that many are anxious about doing so. Infection rates in Scotland are now very low, and the chances of catching coronavirus (COVID-19) are also much lower but the changes set out in the updated Route Map don't all apply to people who have been advised to shield yet. We are easing our shielding advice throughout July, as long as infection rates in Scotland continue to fall, and we have set out a separate Route Map of the changes we expect to make. If you are shielding then you should receive a letter in the coming days with your Route Map.
The advice to people who are not shielding but are still at an increased risk of developing severe illness – because of their underlying health condition and/or if they are over 70 years of age or have a disability – is that they continue to strictly follow the guidelines on physical distancing, handwashing, surface cleaning and respiratory hygiene guidance on the NHS Inform website.
9 July 2020
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