The First Minister ties the reduction of coronavirus restrictions to the vaccination programme, but states that supplies are still unclear.
Nicola Sturgeon warned that there is no guarantee that at the end of January the lockout on mainland Scotland will be lifted or schools will reopen.
The first minister claimed that there was no definite response as to when the restrictions would end, as this would depend on the recent surge to dramatically ease cases.
The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, has suggested that the lockdown in England could last until March.
The pandemic has ‘inherent complexities,’ Sturgeon told BBC Radio Scotland.
She related the easing of the restrictions that took effect at midnight on Monday to the rollout of vaccinations, but acknowledged that the government was still waiting for supplies to be verified. “If supplies allow, the focus is on getting people vaccinated, because that’s the way out of this,” she said.
By the end of January, she said, she was assured of making 900,000 doses available for individuals in the upper categories of those in line for the vaccine – those over 80 and frontline health staff – with significant batches of the two vaccines anticipated later in the month.
In January, it was likely that many more doses would arrive.
The estimate was that by early May, nearly 2.7 million people will have received their first dose on the priority list of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization — that is, everybody over the age of 50 and everyone under the age of 50 with some underlying diseases.
She said, however, “We don’t have any certainty yet on delivery schedules after January, but that’s becoming more concrete.”
“Asked if that meant that until May the lockdown would continue, she said, “No. Not necessarily.
Right now, I can’t say definitively when we are going to lift those restrictions.
If the virus can be contained, “then hopefully, while the vaccination program continues, even in the first phase, we will be able to lift some of those restrictions.”
But I still can’t be sure of that, because it depends on our ability to bring down infection rates again.
Jan. 18. The issue of school closures will be discussed. “I really hope that the situation has improved to the point where we can say that children will be able to go back into the school buildings on Feb. 1, but I can’t be 100 percent sure about that,” she said.
In negotiations with universities, the Scottish government is also about further delaying the return of students to campuses. While a phased return of students had been arranged by Scottish universities in January, that has now been reviewed.