Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots to remain cautious amid the easing of restrictions in Scotland.
Scotland removed the majority of coronavirus restrictions after the country moved beyond Level 0 at midnight.
The First Minister admitted she had “butterflies in my stomach” over lifting most of the legal coronavirus restrictions in Scotland and would support vaccinating children of an even younger age if the advice of expert advisers gave the move the green light.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast the First Minister said: “We should still be cautious, this is an infections virus, it has shown us previously that it is highly unpredictable so it makes sense to treat it with respect, don’t underestimate it and be cautious.
On #BBCBreakfast First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says people should remain ‘cautious’ but ‘positive’ as Scotland lifts almost all coronavirus restrictions.https://t.co/CYgbFm2Y1K pic.twitter.com/1rN9NQ9hD9
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) August 9, 2021
“We should also feel positive about where we are right now thanks largely to vaccinations, we are in a much stronger position and that allows us to lift legal restrictions.
The First Minister was also challenged on whether any restrictions could be brought back.
She replied saying: “I think any politician, anywhere in the world, in the face of a pandemic of an infectious virus that sits here and says ‘I can guarantee something’ is not being sensible and actually it’s not being frank with people.
“Every fibre of my being hopes that the restrictions we are lifting today in Scotland will never, ever have to be imposed, and am I optimistic about that? Yes.
“Can I guarantee it? Well, I could tell you that right now for the sake of an easier interview, but it wouldn’t be the right thing to say because keeping this virus under control depends on all of us continuing to do all of the sensible things I’ve been talking about.
“We also know that this is a virus that has already mutated, new variants continue to be our biggest threat, so we’ve got to be careful and we’ve got to be realistic.
“But I very much hope that all of that, coupled, of course, principally with the power of vaccination, will mean that never again do we have to face lockdowns.”
The First Minister hailed the impact vaccines were having on tackling Covid-19 and said there was evidence that the vaccines were breaking the link between transmissions.
When asked if she would like to see younger people given the vaccine she said: “I hope we do see a position soon where the evidence and data allows the JCVI, the body that advises us on these things, for younger children, for young people over the age of 12.
16 and 17-year-olds across the UK are being invited to book their Covid vaccine. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tells #BBCBreakfast she would support vaccinating children of an even younger age.https://t.co/fNDVn070Kc pic.twitter.com/tuckDachCZ
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) August 9, 2021
“I want to see this vaccine offered to as many people in Scotland as possible because that obviously extends the protection. But of course, I am a politician, I am not an expert on public health so we need to listen to and follow the advice of our expert advisors, but I think 16-17-year-olds is a positive step forward. We started vaccination of that age group at the weekend, and from tomorrow 16 and 17-year-olds can go to drop-in clinics to get vaccinated and I would take this opportunity to encourage them to do so.
“I do hope that we will be able to extend vaccination to younger people sooner rather than later ”
The First Minister also added that work should be done on creating a working from home model that prioritised well-being as well as the needs of business and controlling Covid.
She also told Good Morning Britain: “I think there’s always going to be nervousness when we lift restrictions after such a long period.
“I have to be honest that there’s some butterflies in my stomach about it today, but I think it’s the right moment to do this.
“We see daily fluctuations in our case numbers but the trend is downwards, and of course the vaccine is giving significant protection.
‘This is the right moment to remove legal restrictions.’
First Minister of Scotland @NicolaSturgeon reacts to concerns about the close proximity of easing restrictions and schools reopening in Scotland.
She says that we have to continue to ‘exercise care and caution.’ pic.twitter.com/YELuAKsHmr
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) August 9, 2021
“So this is the right moment to remove legal restrictions to try to get that greater normality back in our lives, but with a big caveat that the virus hasn’t gone away, the pandemic is not over.
“I think it’s premature to declare victory over it or freedom from it, we’ve got to continue to be careful, which is why in Scotland we’re keeping some sensible precautions in place – for example, face coverings in many indoor settings – so it’s a moment to feel optimistic.
“This has been a long, hard year-and-a-half, but we’ve got to continue to exercise care and caution – this virus is unpredictable, and I think it’s true that we under-estimate it at our peril.”
The First Minister was appearing on the show as Scotland moved beyond Level 0 Covid restrictions following a weekend that also saw 16 and 17-year-olds across the country now being invited to book their Covid vaccine.
A campaign will also be rolled out across social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok, as well as on radio stations Kiss, Capital, Heart, Sunrise, and TalkSport, urging young adults to get jabbed.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney spoke about the easing of restrictions when he appeared on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Monday.
He said moving beyond level 0 now was “the right judgment and the right moment to act”.
The use of face coverings would continue to be required at least through the winter, he said, as they are a “significant obstacle to the circulation of the virus”.
Mr Swinney said: “Certainly over the winter I would expect face coverings to remain a significant part of our lives.”