Everyone, thank you very much for joining us.
I am joined today by the Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop and our National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch.
Let me give you the usual update on the COVID-19 statistics.
An additional 27 positive cases were confirmed yesterday - that takes the total now in Scotland to 18,104.
A total of 904 patients are currently in hospital with the virus either confirmed or suspected.
That is 25 fewer than yesterday and it includes a reduction of 19 in the number of confirmed cases.
A total of 19 people last night were in intensive care with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. That is 4 fewer than yesterday.
Since 5 March, a total of 3,961 patients who had tested positive and been in hospital have been discharged from hospital
And in the last 24 hours, 6 deaths were registered of a patient confirmed through a test as having COVID-19 – the total number of deaths in Scotland, under that measurement, is 2,470.
My deepest condolences are with the families behind these statistics and indeed to everyone who is grieving a loved one because of this illness.
And my thanks go to everyone across our health and care services who continue to care for those affected.
Yesterday I confirmed that we would move into Phase 2 of our exit from lockdown which is good and positive news
That was made possible by the significant progress we have all made over the past three months and I want today again to thank everybody across the country for that.
The virus of course hasn’t gone away that is something we need to continue to keep in our minds but there’s no doubt that the virus in Scotland is firmly in retreat.
That’s why the changes to the rules and the guidance that I announced yesterday, though significant, were also careful because we have to keep the virus in retreat. We have today published the supporting evidence, which informed those decisions that we took and we confirmed yesterday.
Now, I don’t intend to repeat everything I said yesterday, but let me quickly recap on some of the main changes.
The Cabinet Secretary will talk in a moment about the measures that directly affect businesses – and the reopening of our economy.
For my part today, I want to focus on the changes relating to social interaction and leisure.
Ahead of the weekend, just to remind you the new rules for staying safe.
And that’s what we are now asking you to prioritise.
You will see on the lectern in front of me that Stay Home has been replaced with Stay Safe, and now we asking you to focus on Staying Safe, Protecting Others, Saving Lives.
That’s what we are asking you to do. And as we start to go out and about more, we need people to pay more attention to the basic steps we can all take to stay safe.
From today, you can meet with up to two households outdoors – rather than just one.
However, it should be no more than two at a time, and no more than two in a day. And we are still advising that there should be no more than eight people in any group.
The risk of mixed household gatherings indoors is still too great. So these meetings still have to take place outdoors. However, if you are meeting in the garden of another household, we’ve changed the guidance so that you can go indoors to use a toilet.
If you do that – of course - you should avoid touching surfaces, and immediately and thoroughly clean those you do touch. That’s essential in preventing the spread of the virus from one household to another.
We’re continuing at the moment to ask people to stay within or close to their local area. That means – for leisure and recreation purposes – you should be travelling no more than around five miles or so. Although let me stress that limit does not apply to meeting with family and friends.
Those are some of the more general measures which apply from today. But I also want to highlight two sets of changes we’ve made, for specific groups.
The first relates to people who are shielding. The guidance for those individuals remains very different to the general population. And we’re continuing to advise shielding people, to be very cautious because you are most at risk from this virus.
However, we’ve also announced some careful changes, which will hopefully improve your quality of life.
We’ve said that - unless you live in a nursing or residential care home – you are now able to go outdoors for exercise – for example for a walk or cycle.
You can take part in non-contact outdoor activities - such as golf.
And you can meet outdoors with people from one other household – but in groups of no more than eight.
You should stay at least two metres away from other people at all times, even if you live with the person you’re out with. Do not go inside someone else’s house, or allow someone from another household to go inside yours – even to use the toilet. And when you go outdoors, see if you can choose times and areas that are quiet and that is all for your own safety but I hope these changes do help to make things better for you because this lockdown has been difficult for everyone we know it has been particular hard for those in the shielding category
The other set of changes I want to briefly highlight are those for people who either live alone, or live only with children, under the age of 18.
From today, people in those circumstances are able to form an ‘extended household group’ with one other household.
Within that extended household, people will be able to meet indoors, without physical distancing, and if you want to, you will be able to stay at each other’s houses overnight.
However, you must if you are in one of these household group, continue to see any other households outdoors only, and stay two metres apart from them.
There are also other conditions, which are necessary to make sure this change can work without significantly increasing the risk of the virus passing from one household to another.
An extended household must not include anyone who is shielding because the risk to the shielding population is still too high. No one in an extended household group should form a similar arrangement with any other household. And if one member of the extended household group gets the virus, all of the group will have to isolate - whether or not they are living in the same house.
So within these conditions, there is a positive change that I hope will help with some of the loneliness and isolation that has been a real cruel feature of the past few weeks.
It won’t benefit everyone this change right now but it will benefit a significant number.
For example, it will allow a grandparent who lives on their own to form a group with another household in their family and see grandchildren - and I’m sure many are taking advantage of this already. It will allow a single parent and their children to join with another household for support. And it will allow a non-cohabiting couple, where at least one of them lives alone, to be reunited indoors without the need for physical distancing.
I hope very much we might be able to expand this ‘extended household group’ idea in the not too distant future so it benefits more people and I will keep you updated on that.
All of these changes which I’ve outlined are now in effect. And if you need more information on them, because as we ease lockdown things get more complicated. So if you want more information and detail please go to the Scottish Government’s website where you will find the guidance and the explanation about what you can do safely.
As I said yesterday it is not possible will the best will in the world for us to provide specific guidance for every single individual circumstances so my advice to you to continue to err on the side of caution, and don’t do it.
One of the consequences of easing restrictions, as I’ve just said, is that the things we’re asking you to do will inevitably become more complex. So while we still – of course – want people to stay at home as much as possible, we know that the message we’re giving to you needs to adapt, to reflect the phase we’re now in.
That’s why - as I’ve just said - we are now asking you to ‘stay safe, protect others and save lives’.
And that means it is even more important now that people know – and remember – the different things we need you to do. And so we are launching a new public awareness campaign called FACTS.
Each letter of that word FACTS should serve to remind us all of the key measures we need to comply with. Let me quickly run through them. And those measures are:
- Face coverings in enclosed spaces
- Avoid crowded places
- Clean hands and surfaces regularly
- Two metre distancing; and
- Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.
Remember these FACTS and that will help all of us to stay safe and protect each other as well.
Complying with all of that, will be critical in making sure we keep the virus under control as we start to move back to normal, and that will be important in laying the groundwork and the foundation for further changes that we are going to make in the weeks to come.
I’m going to end with this point.
I’m very aware that as we start to see this virus receding – and as we ease some restrictions – there’s a natural desire to go even faster.
But we cannot afford at this stage to be complacent. This virus is still out there, it has not gone away. And as we gradually remove the restrictions that have kept it under control, there’s a real risk is it could start to circulate again. That’s why we need to proceed with purpose - but also with caution. And we all need to continue to play our part, in suppressing this virus.
In these days and weeks to come, the things we do as an individual will have an impact on all of us and they will determine whether we keep this virus under control. So if we all keep doing the right thing I am more optimistic than I’ve been in a long time that we are now firmly on track to getting normality back into our lives and no doubt that is thanks to your sacrifices and your efforts. So, thank you again very much indeed.
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