Nicola Sturgeon won plaudits from some unlikely quarters this week for her “grown-up conversation” on lifting the lockdown.

Unionist commentators like the Times's Alex Massie and the New Statesman's Chris Deerin commended her “clarity and transparency”. Ms Sturgeon's speech received rave reviews from the former Chancellor George Osborne and the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Mind you, I'm not entirely sure that they quite heard what she said. Mr Osborne urged Boris Johnson, as he returns to his desk tomorrow, to listen to her views on the “hard trade-offs” that the public must accept as we “plan to end the lockdown”. They seemed to be under the impression that the First Minister was envisaging an early end to Covid restrictions.

Well, I have read the 26-page document several times and I can't see any concrete plans for lifting the lockdown, or hard trade-offs for that matter. All it says is that the government will only lift it “when it is safe to do so” and will “be guided by the science”. No change there.

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There was much talk of “values” and platitudes about recovery being inclusive and socially just. As for the “Framework for Decision Making”: I think we all know by now that we will need “innovative approaches to maintain physical distance ... active surveillance ... strong hygiene practices ... and protection of vulnerable groups”.

Most of us realise that we should be “case-finding, contact-tracing and quarantining”, as the FM put it. But these are precisely the measures that were halted by the Scottish Government in March. There is no indication that an apparatus of community contact tracing and treatment is being constructed on a similar scale to that in Germany or South Korea. Or if there is, I've missed it.

Adults should be allowed to discuss what risks they are prepared to take and when. We cannot be held in virtual house arrest until next year. No one is advocating lifting the lockdown tomorrow and letting the disease rip. But we need a timetable for lifting these onerous restrictions on our way of life.

European countries including Austria, Switzerland and Germany are doing precisely this and announcing credible plans for returning to normality. In Germany, small shops like florists, bookshops and bike repair shops are already open as well as garden centres. Schools are scheduled to return on May 4.

In Norway and Denmark, primary schools are already open as are many businesses including hairdressers and even tattooists. They now have well thought-out protocols for maintaining Covid security and are allowing domestic travel to resume.

Spain, one of the epicentres of the disease, is progressively lifting restrictions on non-essential industries like construction and car factories. Police in Madrid have been handing out millions of masks on the country's metro system and at bus stations. We still don't know the Scottish Government's views on the masks controversy.

Europe's worst-hit nation, Italy, is also reopening for business. There are plans to extend shop opening hours and weekend working to stagger rush hours and prevent social herding. In Milan, the council is asking people to use electric scooters in preference to public transport and is widening pavements to aid social distancing.

Of course, some of these countries are in advance of the UK in the progress of the disease. But they're not far ahead of Scotland. There is strong evidence that Scotland is well past peak Covid, both in the spread of the disease and the death rate.

Many in the SNP were hoping for an indication that the Scottish Government was going to depart materially from the UK policy of dither and drift. There has been criticism from figures like the MP Joanna Cherry about the laxity of testing of international visitors, since The Herald on Sunday reported last weekend that some 8000 were arriving in Scotland with barely any health checks at all.

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Ms Cherry has pointed out that Scotland has, under its own legislation, the right to impose its own testing regime. No one is suggesting that the border with England should be closed. But there is the potential for increasing border checks and testing at ports and airports.

The First Minister hinted at “options” for varying the current restrictions “by geography, by sector or by specific groups of the population”. She gave no indication of what these might be. Could the highlands of Scotland begin ending lockdown earlier than the more congested lowlands where the disease has been concentrated?

The Scottish Government's scientific advisers say that young people are much less likely to be seriously affected by Covid-19. Are we really going to prevent them meeting and socialising until next year? Of course not, so we need to give them some prospect of normality.

Scotland has had some of the best spring weather on record, yet people are locked at home often in overcrowded and unhealthy environments. It is well established that the virus cannot survive long in sunlight and that people are much less vulnerable to coronavirus-type diseases in summer.

Professor Carl Heneghan, of Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, said last week that Scotland is past the worst and should ease lockdown in summer. If we wait until next winter, the population will be more vulnerable to the second wave of infections that everyone knows is coming.

Collateral damage from lockdown is mounting. It was reported this week that cancer referrals in Scotland have fallen by 72%, suggesting that an avoidable cancer epidemic could be on the horizon. People are dying at home from heart failure because they are afraid or reluctant to go to hospital.

The longer the lockdown continues the more serious will be the damage to mental health – as Italy has recently discovered. We know from Scotland's history of devastating recessions last century that the health effects of unemployment are extremely serious.

An adult conversation must surely include levelling with the Scottish people that this is a disease that cannot be eliminated and that the vast majority of us are likely to be exposed to it before a vaccine is discovered. Lifting the lockdown will inevitably mean, in the short term at least, a risk that there will be an uptick in infections.

Everyone realises this. Professor Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director, has been saying it loudly since March. Yet the First Minister told Good Morning Scotland on Friday that under no circumstances would she allow any group to be exposed. “It is not part of our approach,” she said, “that there is a certain section of the population that we will allow to have this virus." That is a hostage to epidemiological fortune.

Ms Sturgeon should accept her plaudits and bank her political capital but not delude herself that she has “done” lockdown. Her next speech must start talking about practicalities. We need a timetable for lifting restrictions on the less vulnerable. It is doing huge damage to the educational prospects of a generation to keep the schools closed indefinitely.

Our children do not deserve to suffer because people of my generation and older might be marginally at risk. That's the conversation that this adult wants to hear.