SCOTLAND’S coronavirus lockdown has been extended for another three weeks as Nicola Stugreon warned Boris Johnson against trying to pressure the Scottish Government "into lifting restrictions prematurely".

Speaking at the daily briefing, the First Minister said she could not be confident that the all important R number – which measures how the disease spreads through the population – is low enough to allow any easing of restrictions. 

She said it "could still be hovering around one just now" which means each existing infection causes one new infection.

The First Minister said "any significant easing up of restrictions at this stage, would be very, very risky indeed". 

She added: "Also, we think that the number might still be a bit higher here than it is in other parts of the UK, perhaps reflecting the fact that our first cases came later than England, and so we may be at a different and slightly later stage of the infection curve. 

“Now, all of that tells me that extreme caution is required at this critical juncture, to avoid a rapid resurgence of the virus. Before we can judge that it is safe to begin any significant, albeit gradual easing of the restrictions. We want to see data in the days ahead, that confirms a very clear downward tend."

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The First Minister’s announcement came as press reports suggested Johnson could ease the restrictions in England as soon as next Monday. The Tory leader is due to layout his roadmap out of lockdown in a televised address on Sunday night. 

Sturgeon said she had had no discussion with the UK Government about any of the measures mentioned in the paper, but revealed that the Prime Minister had requested a call later today. 

The First Minister said: “Let me be clear if the Prime Minister decides that he wants to move at a faster pace for England than I consider is right for Scotland that is of course his right. 

“I will respect that and I will not criticise him for doing that. But I hope you understand, and indeed I hope you agree that I must make judgments informed by the evidence that are right, and safe for Scotland. 

“I will not be pressured into lifting restrictions prematurely, before I am as certain as I can be that we will not be risking a resurgence of infection rates.”

One of the potential measures briefed by Downing Street was the possibility of allowing people to remove the once-a-day limit to outdoor exercise.

Sturgeon said: “As I alluded to earlier in the week we are already considering whether it would be possible now, without increasing the R number, to permit you to exercise outdoors, more often than once a day, but on the strict conditions that you still stay within your own household group, stay two metres away from others and stay reasonably close to your own home. 

“It would, let me stress this point, it would not change the overall message to stay at home, except for the limited reasons of exercise, food and medicine.”

The next review date will be on May 28, but the First Minister said the government could make changes to the regulations before then, “if the evidence suggests that it is safe to do so.”