Scotland announces options for lockdown exit strategy but First Minister warns people must 'find new normal'

Scotland has outlined its options for an exit strategy from current coronavirus lockdown measures.

A paper published by the Scottish Government sets out the possible next steps for dealing with Covid-19, including a pledge to ease strict stay-at-home measures.

It comes after Scotland's First Minister pledged she would be open and transparent with people when considering her government's next move.

Nicola Sturgeon warned, however, that a "return to normal [...] is not on the cards" but that people must "find a new normal, a way of living alongside this virus".

She said businesses will have to adapt so that customers and staff are able to stay two metres away from one another, whilst classrooms may have to be redesigned with not all schoolchildren able to return to learning at the same time.

In Thursday's daily update on the coronavirus outbreak, Ms Sturgeon described the paper as a a "first cut", designed to start an "adult conversation" about the Government's next steps.

The First Minister added that the "science will never be exact" and the Scottish Government will have to make judgments on any measures added or lifted.

Ms Sturgeon said she would be "frank" with the people of Scotland about what the government's thinking is behind any changes to current measures.

She warned, however, about the possibility of re-applying or strengthening current lockdown measures if cases of the virus grow cannot be ruled out.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Continuing to suppress Covid-19 is the central objective that we've set out in this paper today."

The published report is clear that "now is not the right time to relax restrictions" and adds "living with the virus will mean continued uncertainty and changes to how we live our lives".

On what elements of the lockdown will be first to ease, the report states: "We are likely to require continued adherence to the advice on staying at home if symptomatic and to the advice on physical distancing.

"Even as we lift some of the more restrictive measures, we are likely to require continued adherence to the advice on staying at home if symptomatic and to the advice on physical distancing."

The report warns it is "likely" restrictions on gathering in groups - which have shut down pubs and led to public events across Scotland being cancelled - will need to continue "for some time to come".

Measures such as social distancing are likely to remain in place, the report suggests. Credit: PA

Addressing the daily press briefing on coronavirus, the First Minister admitted lockdown measures were doing "damage" to Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon told the briefing that problems are being seen in business, education and living standards, adding a better "balance" will need to be found.

"That's why talking about lifting lockdown as if it’s a ‘flick of the switch moment’, is misguided," she warned adding:

"Our steps, when we take them, will need to be careful, gradual, incremental and probably quite small to start with."

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