FM under fire

Business calls for more detail as lockdown eases

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘greater freedom by summer’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s economy would begin to reopen from the last week of April, though her phased easing of restrictions was criticised for offering too few details.

It will begin with non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers and will depend on data showing the virus is under control.

Ms Sturgeon outlined the next stages in moving the country out of lockdown with some shops able to reopen on Easter Monday, 5 April.

A more substantial easing of the rules will begin from 26 April when the nation will return to a tier system of restrictions and businesses such as gyms and hairdressers will reopen.

“I know businesses want as much clarity as possible, but I want to avoid giving false assurances,” she told MSPs.

“I am as confident as I can be that the indicated stage timetable I have set out today from now to the end of April is a reasonable one.

“It is important to stress, of course, that all of this depends on us continuing to suppress the virus now – and continuing to accept some trade-offs for a period, for example on international travel.

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“However, if we do so, I am optimistic that we can make good progress in returning more normality to our lives and the economy.”

From 5 April the First Minister said it is her hope that the current stay-at-home restriction will be lifted and that there would be “greater freedom” by the summer.

Ruth Davidson, speaking for the Scottish Conservatives, said it was more of a “holding document” that gave little clarity on planning their lives and asked the public to “tune in again” in three weeks’ time to get more information.

“This statement fell short of public expectations. We didn’t get information about when measures like social distancing will end and when we will be able to do something as basic as give a loved one a hug,” she said.

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