Setting the conditions for moving beyond Level 0
To ensure that it is safe to proceed, progression beyond Level 0 will be linked to a 'Gateway condition', based on clinical advice, as was the case in April 2021 for the move to Level 3. This would relate to the amount of vaccine coverage and would be consistent with our revised strategic intent. At present, our current analysis of the state of the epidemic indicates that the lifting of Level 0 restrictions should not happen until at least all adults aged over 40 years of age are protected by two doses of the vaccine. We expect this to happen by 9 August.
Reaching the stage of lifting the remaining levels restrictions will not signal the end of the epidemic. COVID-19 is a disease that we will have to manage for the foreseeable future. To maintain the progress we have made in returning to more normality, it will be important that people continue to stick to a set of baseline measures, covered either by regulations or guidance, to stop the virus resurging and to protect those who do not have protection from vaccination. In practice, this will mean everyone playing their part by taking measures such as: ensuring that there is good ventilation; maintaining good hand hygiene; practising respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette; wearing face-coverings when appropriate; and continuing to engage with our Test and Protect system and self-isolating when they are symptomatic or have tested positive.
As we transition to a stage where levels restrictions are no longer required as a COVID-19 management tool, we will also consider the optimal package of restrictions to use for future outbreak management purposes should that become necessary. Enhanced public health measures will continue to be deployed to manage future outbreaks. These could be applied as area-based restrictions where it is necessary, justified and proportionate to do so to avoid significant harm – including, for example, if a new variant escapes the effect of current vaccines.
The following sections set out our progress against each of the six elements within our Strategic Framework and how we plan to take these forward as we manage the next phase of the epidemic in Scotland. This progress will enable us, in the near future, to return much closer to normality and build the platform for national recovery.