Like the rest of the world, every aspect of daily life in Scotland has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The response to the virus has been seen at all levels of government: local, Scottish and UK, as well as internationally. Health is a matter entirely devolved to Scotland and the national leadership in this has come from the Scottish Government. However, the impact of Covid-19 extends beyond the devolved competencies of Holyrood.
The four nations approach to the crisis has been a core element of Scotland’s response but there has been divergence where our needs have differed, linked to attempts to influence UK policy when the reserved policy levers are required. Despite this, the Scottish Government notes that the “approach is guided by the Chief Medical Officer, and we continue to monitor the situation closely and to work with the WHO and the international community. We are working with the Welsh Government, Northern Ireland and the UK Government to respond to the ongoing outbreak”.
The framework for tackling the pandemic was announced by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on 23 April 2020. The framework set out four key phases to emerge fully from lockdown and is supported by a number of specialist advisory groups.
The Scottish Government is statutorily required to update Parliament every three weeks on the current position within the country and to announce whether restrictions will be eased or tightened. Throughout the situation, Scotland has kept a clear eye on the developing pandemic trends.
On 4 May 2020, the Scottish Government published its Coronavirus (Covid-19): Test, Trace, Isolate, Support Strategy, which supports the framework and provides clear guidance to the public and to public agencies and businesses on what is required to reduce infection rates and protect the NHS.
Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities have been instrumental in providing support advice and financial assistance during the crisis. The 13 Health Boards continue to provide health care, advice and intelligence throughout the pandemic, each managing the situation in their locality, with plans and strategies that work toward a coordinated national plan of action.
The Scottish Government is working with the UK Government to improve the test and trace system in Scotland. In early September 2020, NHS Scotland launched the Protect Scotland app to monitor connections between citizens. To date, more than 1.1 million people have downloaded the app, which is completely anonymised.
As the second wave approaches, Scotland appears to be well placed and prepared to work across the four nations and beyond to minimise the impact of Covid-19.