Ms Sturgeon addressed MSPs in an update that coincided with the publication of the Scottish Government’s Covid strategic framework.
The First Minister revealed that PCR testing would continue to be free in Scotland, in contrast to Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday.
She also announced that Covid vaccine passports are to be scrapped as early as February 28 with all restrictions to be lifted by March 21.
Key points from Nicola Sturgeon’s update
- Free PCR testing to continue in Scotland
- The strategic framework will rely less on legally imposed measures and will be used to guide the Government response to future Covid variants
- Covid self-isolation in Scotland will continue
- Vaccination appointments for 5-11 years old with underlying conditions will begin in mid-March.
- The Covid vaccine passport scheme will end on February 28
- The face-covering legal requirement in shops and on public transport will end on March 21
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How is Nicola Sturgeon’s plans different from Boris Johnson’s?
In his announcement on Monday, Boris Johnson set out a four-principled plan.
The PM said that the ending of all Covid restrictions in England would begin by [removing] all remaining domestic restrictions in law”.
Mr Johnson added further detail of when current restrictions would be lifted:
- The legal requirement for people in England to self-isolate when they catch Covid will end from this Thursday, February 24
- End to self-isolation support payments, although Covid provisions for statutory sick pay can still be claimed for a further month
- End to routine contact tracing and no longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 to test daily for seven days
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How did Nicola Sturgeon respond to Boris Johnson’s plans?
Nicola Sturgeon expressed frustration over Boris Johnson’s approach to Covid testing which he outlined in his announcement on Monday.
The Scottish Government is “determined to retain” free Covid testing, in contrast to England.
Ms Sturgeon criticised the decision by Boris Johnson to end universally free testing and said that the Scottish Government was looking for clarity on funding for the testing programme for devolved countries.
The First Minister said: “Current funding arrangements mean that though taxpayers in all four UK nations contribute to the costs, it is decisions taken for England that determine the resources available to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for testing and other Covid measures.
“As of now, we have no clarity on how much of the Covid testing infrastructure the UK government intends to retain; no clarity on how much investment will support it in future; and no clarity on whether the Treasury will provide additional resources to pay for it or demand instead that funding is taken from elsewhere in the health budget.
“I hope we get this clarity soon so that we can out in more detail our longer-term approach to testing.
“However, and I will say more later, I want to give an assurance that the Scottish Government is determined to retain a robust testing system capable of providing Scotland with strong resilience against future Covid threats, and firmly aligned with public health advice and the principles underpinning our National Health Service.”