Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making

Sets out challenges Scotland faces and outlines the approach and principles that will guide us as we make decisions about transitioning out of the current lockdown arrangements.

Section 1: Scotland's Approach

  • We will act in accordance with our values.
  • We will listen to the best evidence.
  • We will engage the people of Scotland.

The World Health Organisation was notified of the first cases of a new disease - COVID-19 - over 100 days ago, and declared the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. The first cases in Scotland were notified on 1st March.

As of 23rd April, 9409 people in Scotland have been confirmed to have been infected with the virus, and as of Sunday 19th April, 1,616 people have been recorded as having sadly lost their lives.[1]

The impact on Scotland has been profound. Every life has been affected. No individual, community or business has been untouched, and for many that has meant real and possibly long-lasting hardship. But the response from the Scottish people has been equally profound. Despite the cost to business and society, we have complied with restrictions and thereby reduced the pressure on our health and social care services, and saved lives.

That response reflects the core values of our National Performance Framework: kindness; dignity; compassion; respect for the rule of law; openness and transparency. It also aligns with our overarching commitment to human rights, equality and social justice. In confronting the threat posed by COVID-19, we are determined that no member of Scottish society will be forgotten or left behind.

It is clear that we cannot immediately return to how things were just over 100 days ago. But it is equally clear we cannot stay in complete lockdown indefinitely, because we know that this brings damaging consequences of its own. So we must adapt to a new reality. With scientists around the world working on vaccines and treatments that are still potentially many months away, we need to find a way to live with this virus and minimise its harms. We need to ensure, that as far as we can, our children are educated, that businesses can reopen, and that society can function. But we must ensure that those things happen while we continue to suppress the spread of the virus.

While it is obvious that government cannot guarantee that no-one will become infected with this virus in future, we are clear that an assumption that there is a proportion or section of the population that it is safe or acceptable to allow to be infected forms no part of the Scottish Government's policy or approach.

Every individual member of Scottish society matters and our entire strategy is focused on preventing every avoidable death. There is no such thing as a level of "acceptable loss". That is an approach which reflects our commitment to safeguarding human rights and upholding human dignity. It is the ethically correct approach to take. And it reflects the caring, compassionate and inclusive ethos of Scottish society.

Our objective is to contain and suppress the virus in order to minimise the harm it can do.

Our challenge is to consider if and how we can achieve that objective while restoring as much normality to everyday life as possible.

Although the decisions on if, when, and how to ease restrictions must be made by government, they cannot be made in isolation. We are listening to the best scientific advice and will apply our best judgements to that. We must also listen to the people of Scotland. Transparency and engagement is fundamental. This document sets out the situation as we understand it, and the principles on which we will base our decisions to ease the current restrictions or, should it become necessary to prevent harm to re-impose or further tighten restrictions.



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