We have come a long way since the coronavirus first arrived in Scotland at the end of last winter. After months of unprecedented restrictions, in which we have lost many lives to the disease and endured many broader harms and hardships, by the summer we had successfully suppressed the virus to a very low level. We had built a solid platform for economic and social recovery, in particular for the re-opening of our schools.

This was achieved through collective sacrifice and endeavour – by the fantastic work of our NHS, by our social care and broader public services, and by the way that people, businesses and third sector organisations adapted to the crisis and complied with the rules and restrictions required to protect ourselves and others.

The latest data and analysis are telling us that we are now reaching or have reached the limit of what we can safely open up. Since the last review point on the 20th August there have been a number of important developments in the epidemic. Several of the key indicators in Scotland including confirmed COVID-related deaths, hospital admissions and use of intensive care units (ICU) have remained very low. However, confirmed positive case numbers have risen to an average of over 150 per day, having been at around 50 per day at the last review point, and having averaged around 10-20 a day for most of July.

In our current assessment of the status of the pandemic, we judge that we do not yet meet the criteria for progressing to Phase 4 of our Route Map, in which the virus will cease to be a significant threat to public health in Scotland. This publication sets out the changes we will implement across the next three week review period to allow us to preserve the progress we have made thus far.

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