Phased re-opening of schools from February 22
Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed a phased re-opening of schools from February 22, if the virus continues to be suppressed.
Pre-school children and pupils in primaries one to three will be able to return to full-time learning from this date, while senior phase pupils will also be able to return on a part-time and limited basis for practical subjects.
The announcement will be under constant review and will rely on the continued suppression of the virus.
The First Minister said that while there has been real progress in Scotland, the situation continues to be fragile and the current lockdown and stay at home message needs to remain in place until at least the end of February.
However, she added she is “cautiously optimistic” that she may begin looking towards a “careful and gradual” easing of restrictions around the beginning of March.
“Pressure on the NHS does continue to be severe,” she said in her statement to the Scottish Parliament. “The number of patients being treated in hospital remains around 30 per cent above the high point of the first wave back in April last year.
“However, hospital admissions in this wave do appear to have peaked on 12th January. They have now stabilised and are starting to reduce, albeit slowly.
“ICU numbers are more volatile, but they did not reach the peak of the first wave and they also appear to have peaked in this wave and to have done so on the 18th January.
“So all in all, the statistics do show real progress.”
Sturgeon warned that Scotland could not afford to risk “fresh importation” of cases from overseas and has therefore announced there will be “managed quarantine” for anyone arriving into Scotland, regardless of which country they have arrived from.
She said the existing four nations approach did not go far enough.
“I can therefore confirm today that we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from,” she told parliament.
“Obviously, we cannot unilaterally implement immediate managed quarantine for people who arrive in other parts of the UK before travelling on to Scotland, so we will continue to urge the UK Government to adopt a similar comprehensive approach.”
Further detail of how this managed quarantine will be implemented will be announced soon.
The First Minister said the number of people to have received a first dose of the vaccine as of Tuesday morning was 610,778.
This figure includes 98 per cent of all residents in care homes and 83 per cent of over-80s in the community.
She said 21 per cent of over-75s have also received their first dose.
The First Minister also revealed that just under 35,000 first dose vaccinations were carried out on Monday, which is the highest daily number so far and 55 per cent higher than last Monday.
She added: “It is right though that all of this is subject to close and ongoing scrutiny. And we will continue to provide the daily figures that allow that to happen.”