Schools in Scotland will go back two weeks EARLIER than England

Schools in Scotland will go back two weeks EARLIER than England: Nicola Sturgeon says classes can return on February 22, introduces her own hotel quarantine for ALL travellers and attacks Boris over English border plans as she gazumps PM again

  • Primary, nursery and some secondary pupils will head back from February 22 
  • Also introduced blanket hotel quarantine requirement for international arrivals 
  • FM said there could be some ‘gradual easing’ of lockdown from start of March

Nicola Sturgeon gave Scottish schools the green light to start reopening after half term next month as she suggested the country could start exiting lockdown at the start of March.

Primary, nursery and some secondary pupils will head back to class from February 22 if the coronavirus rate is low enough, the First Minister told Holyrood today.

She also confirmed that she was introducing a blanket requirement for international arrivals to Scotland to go into hotel quarantine for a fortnight, making her border rules tougher than those introduced by Boris Johnson. 

In a direct attack on the Prime Minister’s decision only to target travellers from ‘red list’ countries, Ms Sturgeon said it would not work and called on him to mirror her approach. 

Updating MSPs in Holyrood on Tuesday, the First Minister said progress had been made as a result of compliance with lockdown restrictions, but ‘continued caution’ was needed.  

From February 22 all children under school age in early learning and childcare will return. Pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 will also be allowed back into school, as will those in the senior phase of secondary school. 

Ms Sturgeon also said there could be some ‘gradual easing’ of the level 4 lockdown from the start of March.

‘If our progress continues, then I am cautiously optimistic that, as more and more people get vaccinated and with the protection of some of the additional measures that I will cover shortly, we may be able to begin looking towards a careful and gradual easing around the start of March.’

An update on possible easing will be given in two weeks, Ms Sturgeon said. 

But as a payoff she cast doubt on the ability of Scots to head abroad on holiday this year. 

After ministers in England suggested the country could be back to a relative normal life by the summer, she told MSPs: ‘I am afraid we will also have to accept that the price of greater domestic normality is likely to be, for a period at least, not going on holiday overseas.’ 

Primary, nursery and some secondary pupils will head back to class from February 22 if the coronavirus rate is low enough, the First Minister told Holyrood today

Professor Jason Leitch claimed ‘progress’ is being made against the coronavirus and he recommended to the SNP Government that younger children can return.

Scotland’s top medic today said that Scotland’s slow vaccine rollout had been hindered by GPs whose surgeries are closed on Sundays.

Holyrood ministers have been accused of being too slow over the vaccination rollout in recent days, with opposition politicians saying the rest of the UK is moving faster.

On Sunday, just 9,628 vaccinations were completed in Scotland, out of a UK-wide total of 322,000.

Speaking to the BBC today Prof Leitch said ‘Sundays are a little bit tricky’ and that the vaccination team has been asked to ‘have a look at that’.

He added that the reason for the drop on Sunday was because of where the jabs are being administered, with most being delivered in GP practices which ‘didn’t all work (on) Sunday’.

‘We decided to do the over-80s in their own practices, where they would know their nurses, where they would know their GPs, where they would be close to home,’ he said.

The schools announcement came after Ms Sturgeon’s chief medical officer said it was safe.

Professor Jason Leitch claimed ‘progress’ is being made against the coronavirus and he has recommended to the SNP Government that younger children can return.

‘We’re heading in the right direction,’ he told the BBC this morning.

‘I can break the secret – you definitely won’t see all of lockdown lifted, but there is progress and therefore you’ve got to think, as public health advisers, what is the first thing you should do? The most important thing is children.

‘That’s what we’ve trailed in the last few weeks that, if we can, we will get some kids back to school.’

At the last review on January 19 the Scottish Government said the earliest date schools could possibly open for pupils who are not vulnerable or children of key workers was being pushed back to at least mid-February.

In England, schools are not expected to reopen until March 8 at the earliest, with scientists casting doubt today on even that target.

Anyone working in schools or childcare settings in Scotland, as well as older pupils, will be routinely tested twice a week, Ms Sturgeon added. 

‘All senior-phase secondary school students will be offered this too,’ she said.

‘This testing offer will be in place for schools as soon as possible to support their return, and we will extend it to the wider childcare sector in the weeks after that.

‘We are determined to get our children back to normal schooling just as quickly as it is safe to do so. It is our overriding priority.’

The First Minister said a system of ‘managed quarantine’ would be put in place for anyone arriving directly to Scotland, going further than systems announced in the rest of the UK.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: ‘The firm view of the Scottish Government is that in order to minimise the risk of new strains coming into the country, managed quarantine must be much more comprehensive.

‘I can therefore confirm today that we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from.’

The First Minister also said that she could not ‘unilaterally’ impose such restrictions on people landing elsewhere in the UK and travelling to Scotland, but hoped the other administrations would work with the Scottish Government to reduce the number of people doing so.

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