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16 April 2020
Lockdown measures expected to be extended by a further three weeks

David Anderson/Holyrood

Lockdown measures expected to be extended by a further three weeks

Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said “we don’t think we are as yet in a position to recommend that we should release this lockdown”

The Scottish Government is expected to extend lockdown measures by another three weeks following a meeting of the UK Government Cobra committee.

Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch told BBC Scotland “we don’t think we are as yet in a position to recommend that we should release this lockdown”.

He added that there may be “geographic” differences in how the lockdown is lifted in the future, but that the UK four nation approach will likely remain consistent for the time being. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will attend the meeting of ministers and officials, chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, where it is expected the decision will be taken to extend the lockdown by another three weeks. 

Leith said that he expects the discussion will be a “very open” and a “consensual conversation about what the four countries should do”. 

He said that the governments will be looking for the estimated transmission ration, known as the R0, of the virus to have reduced and become stable before any lockdown measures are lifted. 

Leitch said: “This virus in the wild has an R0 over three and so you get exponential rises in cases… we believe the R0 in Scotland is below one, but we have to keep it that way for a sustained period of time to allow the numbers to fall.”

As the rate of transmission reduces, Leitch said, the Scottish Government could begin to take decisions to lift the lockdown in a manner different to the rest of the UK. 

He said: “I think as we come out of the curve there may be some differences, mainly geographic or maybe about the nature of the countermeasure release.

“I don’t think we’ll release everything in one day, so we won’t open the pubs and restaurants and all the businesses... We’ll make gradual step changes to the way we release things.

“In the main they will attempt to do that as four countries”. 

Leitch did say that there could be “differences” in the way measures are lifted in future. 

“Orkney looks quite different to Oxford Street,” he said. 

Leitch added: “The FM has repreadly said that she wants to do as much of that together, but if it’s in Scotland’s interest to do something different then we will both advice that and she will decide that, I’m certain. 

“But I don’t think there will be massive differences between the four countries' approaches.”

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