THE Scottish Government released a 47-page report outlining the country’s way out of lockdown, but what does it really mean for Scots?

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs in Holyrood that Scotland is on track to vaccinate all adults by the July 1 deadline, and hopes that the whole country can drop all Covid-19 restrictions on August 9.

But, what else should we expect - as even beyond level 0, we will still be living in a pandemic.

The National has taken an inside look at the government’s Covid-19 strategy paper to see what the future could hold. 

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: We hope to drop all Covid rules in August

What dates have the Scottish Government given for the lifting of restrictions?

The next review point for levels is July 19, where hopefully all of Scotland will be moved to level 0. The Scottish Government has said restrictions won’t be dropped completely until all adults over 40-years-old have had two doses of the vaccine, which is expected to happen by August 9. However, the Government made clear in the paper they will be guided by “data not dates”. 

What criteria does the Government have for lifting restrictions?

There are two main issues at play here, as the report says, “our Covid-19 response remains a race between the virus and vaccines”. The vaccination programme is steaming ahead, with a high take-up rate, which has allowed us to open up parts of our society as it means less people are becoming seriously ill, being hospitalised or dying. However, the rise in variants - such as the Delta variant which is now dominant in Scotland and spreads faster - is the main cause for concern. The rise in number of cases, particularly among the unvaccinated or those who have had one dose, means the Government will “continue to exercise caution”. 

The National:

What about Test and Protect?

The Government scheme will be around for a while yet, even when all restriction levels are lifted, this includes contact tracing and testing of close contacts. However, as more people are vaccinated the role of the programme will change - but be used to tackle clusters or outbreaks in local communities. The Self Isolation Support Grant will remain in place, as well as having eligibility for the payment widened, for “as long as necessary”. 

The National:

Will we still have to socially distance?

From July 19, with the country hopefully in level 0, the rules around social distancing are likely to be changed - if the data supports the move. Outdoor physical distancing could be completely removed at this date, but for indoors, distancing will be dropped within groups sitting together but there will still be an expectation to stay 1m away from anyone outside of the group. If all conditions are met for all Covid restrictions to be lifted on August 9, then physical distancing rules will be dropped completely. 

The National:

What can those on the shielding list expect?

The report notes that the vast majority of people on the shielding list have had both doses, which means that some people can now be removed from the list and won’t have to shield in future. However, for those who cannot have the vaccine, have a weakened immune system, are very elderly or frail, or those who might not want to take the vaccine due to a certain condition, the evidence is “not conclusive” they will be able to have the requirement to shield dropped. 

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon confirms travel ban between Scotland and Salford and Manchester

What is the future for the NHS and social care?

Large parts of the NHS will be remobilised “safely and incrementally”, with focus being put on bringing waiting times down, making more beds available in hospitals and the creation of more Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres. Also, the number of visitors allowed to see a patient in hospital will also hopefully be reinstated when restrictions are lifted.

The Scottish Government has also promised to create a National Care Service (NCS), with a view to introducing a Bill during the first year of the parliamentary term. To strengthen the rights of care home residents, Anne’s law is to be introduced - giving nominated relatives or friends the same access rights to care homes as staff. 

What about travelling abroad?

The Scottish Government currently has a traffic light system in place which signals which countries are safe to travel to. According to the paper these “targeted restrictions” will be in place as long as necessary to stop new variants of the virus being brought into Scotland. There will also be work done to improve the Managed Quarantine Service for overseas travellers who arrive here. 

The National:

Will workers be forced back into the office?

By the looks of it, no, at least not full time. The Scottish Government have said that businesses should continue to support staff to work from home “some of the time”. Guidance on returning to offices will be issued as we get closer to level 0, but there is a focus in the paper on allowing flexible working and a “strong encouragement” from the government to allow staff to work from home.