“Today’s route map outlines four phases in emerging from the Covid crisis beyond the current lockdown phase, and it covers nine key aspects of our lives – seeing friends and family; travel and getting around; education and childcare; work, business and the economy; shopping and leisure; sport and culture; public gatherings and special occasions; communities and public services; and health and social care.
We are legally required to review the lockdown restrictions every three weeks. The next review date is next Thursday, 28th May.
Providing that we continue to make progress in tackling Covid over the next week and, in particular, see no regression in our progress so far, I can confirm that the government intends to move from lockdown to phase 1 – and thereby lift some restrictions – from 28th May.
As we enter later phases – as and when the evidence allows – more restrictions will be removed. Details of the relevant criteria to be met and restrictions to be eased in each phase are set out in the document.
But first, a word of caution – not every phase 1 measure will necessarily be introduced immediately on 28th May. Some may be introduced a few days after that and, depending on the evidence, it is possible that some may have to be postponed – though I very much hope that won’t be the case. But next week, when we have completed our formal review, we will make clear exactly what changes we are making and when, and ensure that detailed information is available for the public.
However, let me set out some of the likely changes in phase 1.
More outdoor activity will be permitted.
You will be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and you will be able to meet people from one other household, although initially in small numbers, while you are outside. This is a change which we hope will benefit everyone, but particularly those without gardens, and people who live on their own.
It is important to stress that different households should remain two metres apart from each other – that is critical in ensuring that this change doesn’t provide the virus with easy routes of transmission. And because of the much higher risk of indoor transmission, visiting inside each others’ houses will not be permitted in phase 1.
Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities will be allowed to restart – such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing – subject of course to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.
In addition, people will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling – to a location near their local community for recreation. Although, we are asking people where possible to stay within or close to their own local area.
Waste and recycling services will resume, as will many outdoor businesses, such as agriculture and forestry.
The construction industry will be able to carefully implement steps 1 and 2 of its 6 step restart plan which it has developed with us. However, let me be clear that there must be genuine partnership with trade unions – this can only be done if it is done safely.
Other industries that are expected to resume in phase 2, will be permitted in the first phase to prepare workplaces for the safe return of workers and customers.
We will no longer discourage take-away and drive-through food outlets from reopening, as long as they apply safe physical distancing. Outdoor retail outlets such as garden centres will be allowed to reopen. However, non-essential indoor shops, and indoor cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed in this first phase.
Some key community support services will resume – for example face to face Children’s Hearings will restart, using physical distancing, and people at risk will have more contact with social work and support services.
We are also planning a phased resumption of aspects of the criminal justice system.
And we will carefully and gradually resume NHS services which were paused as a result of this crisis. I also want to remind people that as of now, you should contact your GP, NHS 24 or 999 if you need to. That message is really important.
It’s important to stress, though, that while the permitted reasons to be out of your house will increase, the default message during phase one will remain Stay at Home as much as possible.
As we move into subsequent phases, more restrictions will be removed. Details of these later phases – and the criteria we will need to meet – are set out in the document. We will make decisions on when and to what extent we can move to these phases carefully and on the basis of evidence. And we will carry out formal reviews at least every 3 weeks, though I hope we can move more quickly than that if the evidence allows.
We also set out what the different phases will mean for transport – and I can confirm that we will publish a much more detailed transport transition plan on Tuesday next week.
We also outline the further stages in which businesses might reopen. Let me stress that we want to move through these stages as quickly as the evidence allows. Getting the economy moving again really matters to all of us, and therefore we have sought to focus first on industries where people simply cannot work from home. However, safety and the confidence of employers, employees and customers is essential. And that is why detailed guidance for key sectors of the economy will follow in the days ahead.
Let me stress that we will continue to require for the foreseeable future home working where that is possible – and we will also encourage flexible working, including consideration of four day weeks for example.
We indicate the phases in which service industries might reopen – that is businesses such as restaurants, bars and hairdressers, the latter being a priority, I know, for almost every woman in the country and some men. For restaurants and bars, I think I’ll not go any further there Presiding Officer, for restaurants and bars, opening of outdoor spaces will come earlier than opening of indoor spaces.
The route map also indicates when places of worship might reopen.
And it makes it clear that while our current guidance on funerals – one of the most distressing and heartbreaking rules of the current lockdown – remains unfortunately unchanged for now, we do hope to relax it as we move from phase 1 to phase 2.
I can confirm that we are planning to allow Universities and colleges to have a phased return next term, with a combination of remote learning, and some limited on-campus learning.
On schools and early learning and childcare, we have published today the report of the Education Recovery Group, which is chaired by the Deputy First Minister and includes representatives of councils, parent and teacher organisations and trade unions.
Let me summarise now the key points.
Teachers and other school staff will return during June to prepare classrooms for the new term and a different model of learning.
During June and over the summer, an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare – such as has been provided for the children of key workers during lockdown.
And we will provide, where possible, transition support for children going into primary 1 or children moving from primary 7 to secondary school. From 11 August, all schools will re-open. However, to allow appropriate physical distancing, children will return to a blended model of part time in-school and part time at-home learning.
Childminders can re-open during phase 1 and over the summer all early years childcare providers will re-open, subject to necessary health measures. Capacity will be prioritized for children of key workers, early learning and childcare entitlement and children in need. And the Care Inspectorate will provide further guidance in due course.
To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, we are also going to invest a further £30 million to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to enable them to study online.
Our emergence from lockdown will be faster or slower, depending on the continued success that we have in suppressing the virus.
It’s also worth saying I think that in the weeks ahead, our messages will inevitably have to become more nuanced and more complex, as we try to strike a very difficult balance protecting public health and also allowing more personal choice.
And for the moment – until 28 May – I must therefore stress that our key public health guidance, as of now, remains unchanged.
Please stay at home except for essential purposes – which right now include exercise, going to essential work that cannot be done at home, or shopping for essential items like food and medicine.
You can now exercise more than once a day – but when you do leave the house, please stay more than 2 metres from other people. And for now don’t meet up with households other than your own.
Please wear a face covering if you are in a shop or on public transport. And remember to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.”