AS reading a map is as close as most of us will get to a holiday this year, it was no surprise Nicola Sturgeon’s exit plan was eagerly devoured on Thursday.

With more than 100,000 people trying to plot their way to freedom, the Government’s website crashed.

Just the thought of less lockdown sent the nation giddy - or to Portobello.

Never has the call of garden centres and McDrivethrus been so keenly felt across the land. And as for beer gardens reopening... well, excuse me while I find my disposable hanky.

Alas, the reality is that little will change immediately, and much that is unwelcome will remain for some time, including of course the coronavirus.

John Swinney yesterday warned society would have to change to keep Covid-19 suppressed to help avoid a second wave this winter.

That means new forms of school, work and public transport. People will be stuck in home offices, washing their hands raw, and keeping apart from friends for the foreseeable future.

The big change the route map did bring was a shift away from following strict rules such as “stay at home” to following your own judgment on keeping yourself and others safe.

There was scoffing when Boris Johnson called it using “good British common sense”, but Nicola Sturgeon came close to saying the same thing.

Much more “personal choice and personal judgment” would be required, she said yesterday, looking hesitant but also relieved that some of the burden of decision-making was passing from her shoulders to ours.

Good judgment has also been much needed at Holyrood this week.

Before the route map distracted us all, the Government was having a pretty rough time of it.

More examples emerged of people who were close to Scotland’s ground zero for Covid - the Nike conference outbreak in Edinburgh in late February - not contacted by public health officials.

Ms Sturgeon insisted there was no cover-up, and patient confidentiality was why nothing was said until a BBC documentary made it public.

In a sign of unease, she shifted her language. Previously, she said ministers decided not to publicise the event. Now she said the health team could have done so, but chose not to.

She also retreated behind the official definition of a contact as being someone who had been within 2m of an infected person for 15 minutes or more. Other contacts didn’t count.

But, as the EU’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control noted in its advice on contact tracing in late March, “the 15-minute limit is arbitrarily selected for practical purposes. Public health authorities may consider some persons who had a shorter duration of contact with the case as having had high-risk exposure, based on individual risk assessments”.

The first two cases of Covid confirmed in Scotland in early March involved people recently returned from Northern Italy. The third was caught at the Nike conference, here in Scotland, out first homegrown case of transmission. Yet the Scottish Government never mentioned it

But confidentiality isn’t much of an excuse. Why didn’t officials ask those involved to agree an announcement? You’d be surprised what patients will allow to be made known.

Take Scotland’s first Covid case. The Government has only ever said the March “index case” lived in Tayside and and had been in Italy.

But I can tell you he was a 51-year-old non-smoker who took regular exercise and called the NHS after developing a 24-hour fever and cough two days after he flew home from Milan after a week’s holiday.

He’d watched a rugby match in Rome and travelled with his partner and two friends in a hire car through Lombardy, Veneto and Tuscany, stayed in private rented accommodation and was unaware of any contact with Covid cases.

When his test came back positive after two days of self-isolation, he was taken by ambulance to hospital in a surgical mask and arrived with a heart rate of 79 beats per minute and blood pressure of 171 over 105.

Public health undertook contact tracing and testing and no further cases were identified.

Luckily, I can also tell you our patient was discharged after eight days and two negative swab tests.

The strain of virus that infected him was dubbed Scotland/CVR01/2020.

I can tell you all these things because they were published in a medical journal within a fortnight of him getting out of hospital thanks to him giving his informed consent.

The idea absolutely nothing could be said about the Nike outbreak for more than two months - despite eight of the ten Scottish attendees catching Covid - continues to defy belief.

As that row rumbled on, another blew up about Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and the number of elderly people hoicked out of hospitals into care homes without Covid testing.

She initially suggested it was 300. In fact it was 921 in March. She apologised and corrected the record. The Scottish Tories called for her scalp.

Jackson Carlaw wrote to Ms Sturgeon claiming it was impossible to see how “public confidence can be maintained” in the health secretary.

I would suggest the First Minister tells Mr Carlaw to get stuffed.

The politics of the pandemic are clearly getting sharper on all sides.

Sir Keir Starmer is going through Boris Johnson at PMQs like a scalpel.

The Tories, worried by how the Prime Minister is doing compared to Ms Sturgeon, feel obliged to pitch in and try to change the narrative.

But is changing the health secretary in a health crisis best for Scotland?

When they look around the Scottish cabinet, who do they think would do a better job than Ms Freeman, who opposition MSPs privately rate as bloody good.

Would the Tories want Ms Sturgeon to recall Shona Robison perhaps?

It was she, after all, who promised to eradicate delayed discharges as health secretary, failed miserably, and bequeathed Ms Freeman the backlog that had to be cut pronto at the start of the outbreak. Fancy that, Mr Carlaw? No, I thought not.

The Government is getting things wrong, no doubt. Some will turn out to have been badly handled, in some cases with tragic consequences.

Ministers appear unduly secretive and in denial about shortcomings.

But while opposition and media scrutiny is vital, and Government candour about mistakes key to avoiding repeats, this is not the moment for heads to roll.

I don’t blame Ms Sturgeon for bulldozing aside such calls. If she concedes too much and starts firing folk, she’ll never escape from it.

Her government, and its efforts on Covid-19, would slide into a political quicksand. The rolling recriminations and Holyrood drama would shake public confidence in precarious times.

The Tories and other parties will get their chance to bag scalps later, and the voters will give their verdict in the 2021 election. But reshuffles are a Phase 4 thing at the earliest.

Team Carlaw needs to find some good Scottish common sense.