On 23 April 2020, I set out the framework we will use for decision making as we continue to supress COVID-19 and minimise its harms, while also seeking to ease the lockdown.
There are no simple solutions to the challenges that lie ahead, and no quick-fixes that will allow us to lift restrictions quickly or dramatically. However, we know how important it is to restore as much normality to life as soon as we can.
In the weeks and months ahead we will all need to continue to play our part in Scotland's response to the disease. To protect each other, our lives are not going to go back to exactly how they were. Instead, we will need to continue to adapt our behaviour to reduce the risk of the disease spreading. We will need to continue with physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene, including the appropriate use of face coverings.
Our behaviour matters, and our choices and willingness to make sacrifices to help keep people in Scotland safe will be crucial.
A key aspect of this next phase, is the "test, trace, isolate, support" approach. We will test people in the community who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. We will use contact tracing, a well-established public health intervention, to identify the close contacts of those cases, who may have had the disease transmitted to them. We will ask and support those close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they do develop the disease, there is less risk that they will pass it on to others. And we will make sure that support is available to enable people to isolate effectively.
However, it is important to stress that "test, trace, isolate, support" will be most effective when levels of infection are low – lower than now – and stay low, and that its success relies on all of us knowing and agreeing what to do if we have symptoms, and being prepared to self-isolate when advised to do so.
This will not be easy. In this next phase, we will be asking people to self-isolate, not for their own benefit, and not because we know for certain that they have contracted the disease, but in order to protect others in case they have.
People may face self-isolation not just once, but on repeat occasions.
This document sets out the Scottish approach to "test, trace and isolate, support," and the extensive work that is now underway to prepare for its implementation.
First Minister of Scotland