When is the next lockdown review in Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon is set announce any changes to the coronavirus restrictions in place following the latest review of lockdown measures this week.

The First Minister is scheduled to reveal the results of the review on Tuesday afternoon when she addresses parliament just after 2pm.

The number of coronavirus cases and deaths has been declining in Scotland, however there are still concerns progress as somewhat "stalled" as the more stubborn Kent variant persists in Scottish communities.

Ministers are set to make a final decision on the proposed plans for a phased return to schools and other coronavirus after meeting on Tuesday morning.

What coronavirus restrictions are currently in place?

Schools and businesses - including restaurants, bars and gyms have been closed across mainland Scotland since January 4, when Ms Sturgeon announced Scotland's second lockdown.

Meanwhile Scots have been restricted to leaving the house for essential purposes only, such as going to the supermarket, exercise or caring for a vulnerable person.

These restrictions were put in place until at least the end of February, with the last lockdown review taking place on February 2nd.

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What could change?


At the last review Nicola Sturgeon said that school pupils - who have been learning remotely - would start to make a phased return from February 22, provided it was deemed safe enough to do so.

A phased return would see Primary 1-3 children back in school five days a week and some senior pupils allowed to attend class for key coursework.

Ms Sturgeon today said that she was "very, very, very keen to go ahead with that if at all possible."

She added: "I don't want to raise expectations too high at the moment, we will consider to what extent it is possible to lay out, even an indicative timetable for the next groups of pupils that are perhaps likely to return to school, but that won't be immediate."

However, there is still uncertainty over the feasability of a return to school for pupils.

Speaking at the briefing on Friday, Jeane Freeman said the approach would be "cautious"

She said: “While the news that we are reporting is better news than we have been reporting about case numbers and numbers in ICU, those are still high case numbers and people are dying in numbers that are of huge regret to all of us - so our approach must be a cautious one.

“The Cabinet will meet at the start of the week and review all of that information, take advice from colleagues like Jason and the chief medical officer and make a final decision next week on whether that planned limited reopening of education can still go ahead."

Jason Leitch added that progress on reducing the spread of the virus had “stalled”, meaning a return to schools for pupils could be in jeopardy. 

He said: “The trajectory is still a really difficult question. It is slow – it is still decelerating – but barely. We have stalled, not completely, but the curve is flatter than we would have hoped and that is all down to the new variant.”

He added: “I and my colleagues - with the modellers, with the statisticians, with the public health leaders - will give advice to the First Minister, the Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet and they will decide on Monday whether schools should open, even in this limited way."

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What about other restrictions?

Speaking at the last review, Ms Sturgeon suggested that other measures could be eased in early March.

She said: “If our progress continues, then I am cautiously – and I stress cautiously – optimistic that, as more and more people get vaccinated, and with the protection of some of the additional measures that I will set out shortly, we may be able to begin looking towards a careful and gradual easing around the start of March. I will give an update on that in two weeks’ time.”

Professor Linda Bauld of the University of Edinburgh said she is hopeful other businesses such as bars and restaurants will be able to gradually reopen over the coming months.

On the reopening of pubs and restaurants, she suggested that pubs will first reopen with access outdoors.

She told BBC GMS: “I’m really hopeful that they will be, I certainly think when the weather gets better we’ll be able to access that outdoors and then indoors with mitigation if we continue to make progress.

“It’s been really, really tough for that sector.

"The important thing is when we do open up, we don’t want to have to close down again and that’s why the vaccines are going to be absolutely essential."

Nonetheless, she cautioned that people will likely continue to have to wear face coverings for the rest of the year and in future winters.

“We’re going to have some public health measures, face coverings, distancing and keeping our eye on not importing variants from overseas, for some time to come.”

Prof Bauld said she expects the country will return to the levels framework of restrictions as it reopens in stages.

She said that framework is based on a range of indicators and while progress is being made, the number of people in hospital needs to go down before things can change.

She said: “ICU and hospital numbers need to go down more and also the modelling of capacity needs to be in the right place, but I really do think we’re going to be hearing good news quite soon and people should be hopeful that we’re not going to be stuck in this situation indefinitely.”

Nicola Sturgeon said today that all of the data was "encouraging".

She said: "All of the data is going in the right direction.

"As we saw in periods last year when we were suppressing the virus, we sometimes seem to hit a period where the decline starts to tail off a little bit, so you see case numbers plateauing rather than declining quite firmly.

"We may be starting to see a little bit of that in Scotland right now, it wouldn't necessarily be that unexpected but it's something that we just have to be mindful of as we look forward to potential timetables for easing lockdown more generally."

Where can I watch?

You’ll be able to watch Nicola Sturgeon's address live on the Scottish Parliament TV channel, BBC Scotland, and Facebook.

There will also be live updates on The Herald coronavirus blog.