NICOLA Sturgeon has issued a stinging rebuke to Alister Jack after the Scottish Secretary insisted Scotland must stick to a four-nation approach to tackling coronavirus.

The Tory minister claimed Scotland staying in “lockstep” with the UK would be the most effective way to manage the pandemic.

However, asked about Jack’s comments during the daily Scottish Government briefing, the First Minister says she’s “at a loss” when confronted with arguments that Scotland must adhere absolutely to a UK-wide approach.

Sturgeon said Scotland would take a different approach from the rest of the UK if she believed it was the most effective way to protect people from the virus.

“I've been very, very, very determined through this and I remain determined not to engage in partisan politics over this because I don't think that is helpful to anybody,” the First Minister said.

“I am at a loss though when I hear people saying, either we have to come out of lockdown in lockstep with the UK, come what may, or we have to do it on a Scotland only basis come what may, because I think both of those are the wrong starting point. And they start to sound as if you're prioritising politics or ideology over what is right for suppressing the virus and reducing the harm it does to people.

“Suppressing the virus and reducing the harm is my starting point, it's the only relevant starting point and then the decisions we take flow from that and if that takes us to UK-wide pacing and phasing so be it. If it takes us in a slightly different direction in Scotland, so be that. And that is what will continue to guide me.”

Sturgeon’s comments come after Jack published a column in the Scottish Daily Mail advocating a four-nation approach.

He argued it was the best way to protect lives and the economy.

READ MORE: Alister Jack claims Scotland must leave lockdown in 'lockstep' with UK

Speaking at the daily conference, the First Minister explained that she would not be tied down to one approach.

She continued: “To give just one example, and this is obviously a completely devolved area, which is schools. You know, we all read in a Sunday newspaper that in England there may be a plan to reopen all primary schools on the first of June.

“Now I cannot and should not comment on whether that is appropriate for England, because I'm not privy to all of the evidence that ministers there will be privy to, but I do know as things stand, although we keep this under constant review, looking at the evidence I have now, I could not put my hand on my heart and say that I think that would be a safe thing to do in Scotland.

“So nobody surely is suggesting to me that I should allow schools to open in Scotland when I don't think it's safe to do so just because there's been a decision elsewhere in the UK to do so.

“The only consideration here is what is the best thing to do, the safe thing to do to keep this virus suppressed at the same time as we're trying to get back to as much normality as possible.”