As Westminster’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, pointed out yesterday – and as the First Minister readily agreed – Nicola Sturgeon’s comments on the likely steps to be taken in easing lockdown are hardly out of line with the UK government’ s approach to the coronavirus emergency.

Nonetheless, Ms Sturgeon has made a welcome and sensible contribution by treating us as adults. While the vast majority of the public has taken a mature approach to the restrictions placed upon them, there are some early signs of fatigue, and a natural desire to have some indication from the authorities about the eventual relaxation of these measures.

The First Minister’s important contribution – and one that this newspaper has called for – was to outline some of the criteria to be applied when such a decision is made. She also stressed that there is no prospect of a swift return to “normal” conditions before this crisis.

Though there are indications the spread of the disease has been contained, and that public compliance with these extraordinary limits on our freedom has bought valuable time for NHS frontline staff, it is important to remember there is as yet no cure for Covid-19.

To abandon social distancing altogether would be to risk a second, potentially much worse, spike in infections (as happened with the Spanish Flu epidemic a century ago), as well as making it much harder to reintroduce preventive measures. But since most people have demonstrated that they can be trusted to observe physical restraints in public, and become accustomed to them in, for example, supermarkets, there must now be a case for gradually reopening other outlets.

There are signs that this is happening in sectors exempted from the lockdown, but where many chose to shut down temporarily, including hardware stores and takeaways. It seems reasonable that other non-food retailers, independent small businesses, garden centres and some recreational facilities, such as golf courses, could follow suit, so long as they observe precautions similar to those that have been brought in elsewhere.

Ms Sturgeon was wise to avoid laying out a firm timetable for such changes until we have guidance from medical advisors and more reliable data. A sine qua non for making sure we have the best scientific evidence is going to be more widespread testing than has been available since the very beginning of the outbreak.

There are assurances that the UK is on course to meet the target of testing 100,000 per day by the end of the month, but that looks dauntingly ambitious. Current testing capacity is half that, at 51,000, and uptake – those actually being tested – half that again. In Scotland the numbers are also pitifully and worringly low. That urgently needs to be improved.

Until it is, it is premature to speculate (as the Welsh government did) about dates for and individual areas of relaxation. Exactly how and when schools – where there are enormous logistical challenges – might start to reopen is still unclear; what is evident, however, is that if they do, it will not be anything like business as usual. And such questions should not be exploited to divert attention from whether the authorities have done enough to obtain the data necessary to make those decisions.

There is also no reason why Scotland should not diverge from other parts of the UK in its measures or its timetable if there are compelling indicators that it is safe to do so. It was reassuring to see the First Minister declare straightforwardly that political and constitutional issues play no part in her thinking, and to insist that only the science will guide policy. Such factors as population density, transmission rates, and the capacity of the health services may well justify slightly different timetables across the UK as a whole.

That, however, is a judgment that can be made only when we have robust scientific evidence, which can come only with accurate population-wide testing data. It will not mean abandoning all the precautions now in place for some time to come but there is certainly scope for greater public trust and continuing to treat us like adults.