Foreword from the First Minister
We have come a long way in the battle against COVID-19. Progress has been achieved through extraordinary developments in science, in healthcare and in the sacrifices that we have all made together. In particular, the success of our vaccination programme has been above and beyond expectations.
However, the virus is still out there, it is still mutating and it is still harmful. So we must all follow through with our second dose of the vaccine to make sure of the best possible level of protection.
As the pandemic develops, how we tackle it as a society needs to change to take account of our progress and the changing nature of the challenges coronavirus presents. This update to our Strategic Framework sets out our future plans for the country as our collective endeavours to tackle the virus move through the next stages.
As vaccinations have progressed, we have been able to open significant parts of society and the economy – some wholly, some partly, whilst others have regrettably remained shut. As we learn more about the positive impact of the vaccination programme in reducing the serious health harms of COVID-19, it is imperative that the restrictions in place remain proportionate and necessary and that we continue to take account of the broader harms that restrictions cause.
Vaccines and our other tools are proving hugely effective in reducing the serious harm the virus does to our health, despite the arrival of new, more highly infectious variants.
Assuming the vaccine continues to be effective against new variants, as so far has proven to be the case, we can now plan ahead to remove more of the prescriptive rules and regulations which have formed a difficult, but necessary and justified, part of our COVID-19 response while vaccination rolls out. As we progress further into the next phase of the pandemic, these rules will begin to give way to greater personal judgment and continued good practices such as good respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette and, most importantly, the choice – where available – to get vaccinated.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude once more to all of those individuals and businesses who have already sacrificed so much to support the country, and also to our NHS and many other workers and volunteers who are helping us to get through this crisis. You have played, and will continue to play, a key role in our COVID-19 response as we now begin to transition to a recovery phase. If we all continue to work together, we can keep on the right track towards happier and better times, and increasingly put the acute phase of COVID-19 firmly behind us.
Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP
First Minister of Scotland
22 June 2021