Live: Nicola Sturgeon sets out Scotland's Covid lockdown exit strategy

Nicola Sturgeon is setting out Scotland's route map out of the current national lockdown.

The First Minister will set out the revised strategic framework on Tuesday afternoon and outline how the country will gradually emerge from restrictions.

The plans will set out an indicative order of priority and proposed phases – with periods of at least three weeks between them – to ease current level 4 restrictions and then return to a more geographic tiered system.

Scotland’s route out of lockdown will not be identical to the UK Government’s, but will be “broadly similar”, Ms Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the data for the nations is different, but the principles of easing restrictions will be the same.

Immediate priorities will be the return of young people to education, sports activities for young people and limited social interaction for adults, the Scottish Government said.

Ms Sturgeon said: "We know we cannot continue in lockdown indefinitely and we must plan a gradual phased return to as much normality as possible.

"The restrictions we have put in place are difficult for individuals, families and businesses across Scotland, but they are working – case numbers have decreased, the numbers of people in hospital and needing intensive care are coming down and we are now seeing fewer vulnerable people dying from this horrible illness.

"This means we can begin to consider how, carefully and gradually, we can return to some normality in Scotland."

Current lockdown restrictions in Scotland:

  • 'Stay at home'

The "stay at home" message in Level 4 areas – mainland Scotland and Skye – became a legal requirement in January, aside from limited exemptions.

  • Schools closed

Schools were shut across Scotland in January but a phased return of the youngest pupils began on Monday.

  • Household mixing banned and outdoor meeting limited

Indoor visits are banned, except in limited special circumstances and only two people from two households are permitted to meet outdoors.

  • Places of worship and ceremonies closed

Places of worship are closed to the public except for weddings and funerals.

  • Travel

Travel restrictions remain in place and people cannot travel out of their local authority area, with some exceptions.

Last week, Ms Sturgeon said the 'stay at home' requirement will remain in place until at least the beginning of March and could potentially last longer.

Scotland's youngest pupils - nursery and primary years one to three - returned to schools on Monday.

Some senior phase pupils in secondary schools also being allowed back, but only to complete "essential practical work", Ms Sturgeon said.

Ms Sturgeon said: "A limited number of children and young people were able to return to school [on Monday] and we have prioritised this because children’s education and wellbeing is such an overriding priority.

"Of course, this has only been possible because people across Scotland have worked together and made sacrifices to bring down levels of Covid-19.

"We hope that more children will be able to return to school later in March.

“And we have published new guidance to enable an easing of restrictions on care home visiting from early March.

"Beyond that, giving people the ability to meet loved ones, initially outdoors, is a priority for easing restrictions within the current level 4.

"As we get to a situation where we can move back to a levels approach, with all or part of the country moving down a level, we can start to carefully open the economy again too."

Ms Sturgeon welcomed the "careful and cautious" roadmap out of lockdown for England announced by the Prime Minister on Monday, adding it is “vital that we learn from past experiences”.

She said: “Similar to us, it seems that they have prioritised children and education and getting life back to normal before doing other things.

“So I think the principles will be the same: we’re living through the same pandemic.

“There is a limit to how much it is sensible to diverge in the circumstances we’re facing in common, but clearly we will make our own judgments about the particular order and the particular timing of that because the data is not identical in each of the four nations.”

The First Minister urged Scots to “be patient” with the easing of restrictions.

She said: “We’ve come this far and it’s been really, really, horrendously difficult for everybody – some more than others.

“It would really be the wrong thing to do to come this far on suppression after a second national lockdown, and particularly with the vaccination programme going so well, and ease up too quickly and send ourselves back the way.

“Patience is a hard thing for me to expect from people and to ask more of from people, I know that. I hate having to do it, but the more sensible and cautious we are just now, the more sustainable these easings of restrictions will be.”

She added: “This is really difficult, I know that, but we have to stick with this if we’re going to come out of this in the shape that we want to be.”

Ms Sturgeon said her road map would give indications of the phasing of restrictions easing, but would not provide reopening dates.