Nicola Sturgeon urges Scotland to return ‘as close to normal as possible’

The first minister said there would be “a lot of optimism” in her new concept for fighting the virus, but warned that “we are still in a pandemic.”

She is expected to abide by the lockdown rules in Scotland despite being lifted in England.

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The Scottish Conservatives called for an end to the general restrictions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to chart the next steps for Covid in Holyrood.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced that those in England who test positive for coronavirus will no longer be required by law to self-isolate from Thursday.

The prime minister also confirmed that free universal testing will end in April, in line with his plan to “live with Covid”.

Speaking ahead of her own statement, Ms Sturgeon said: “There will be a lot of optimism about what I will lay out tomorrow, but I have to be frank with people, we are still in a pandemic of this virus.

“We know from past experience that, for example, new options may emerge and cause new problems.

“So we need to be vigilant about that and we need to be prepared for that, but we also need to manage this risk in a much less restrictive and more sustainable way going forward so that we can all get back to normal, keep that sense of normality, even if we keep this sense of vigilance.”

Scottish Shadow Health Minister Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “As the data on the virus is much more reassuring, we need to move away from general restrictions and instead trust the public to do the right thing.

“The Scottish Conservatives are a party that proposes solutions. Two weeks ago we released our Back to Normal policy paper and I would like the common sense measures it contains to be adopted by the SNP government.

“These include phasing out the increasingly unnecessary Test and Protect app and redirecting the money saved to other areas of our NHS, ending the staffing crisis in the Scottish Health Service so we are better prepared for future emergencies, and publishing an interim report on the Scottish Public Inquiry. Covid as soon as possible so that lessons can be learned.

“We also want a network of long-term Covid clinics and a national tutoring program set up across Scotland to help school children who have been hit the hardest by the disruption to their learning.

“Nicola Sturgeon is often too quick to impose restrictions and too cautious when it comes to lifting them. Tomorrow we need to see from her a bold strategic plan to get the country back on its feet and as close to normal life as possible.”

Scottish Labor Deputy Leader Jackie Bailey said: “The progress we are making against the virus is very welcome, but we must remember that this virus has not gone away and we must all remain vigilant about the threat it poses.

“When the people of Scotland most need cooperation between the two Scottish governments, we face the prospect of them taking opposite positions on easing restrictions.

“Both governments need to make decisions based on science and the real world.”

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