The emergence of the COVID-19 virus is the biggest global challenge that humanity has faced for generations. Internationally, we have seen people and governments across the globe face similar challenges and choices. We stand in solidarity with the global effort to address the threat of COVID-19.
The steps we have taken in Scotland to contain the virus are unprecedented and have changed life as we knew it, but the defining factor is how people have responded to them. I want to start by saying thank you to the people of Scotland for diligently following our public health advice to stay at home.
This gratitude extends to all sectors of our communities: our health and social care workers, who have mobilised with a world class response; the other public service workers who have continued to provide vital public services and taken on new tasks to protect those most in need; our shop workers and our business community, who have found new ways to work and flexed their businesses to respond to our new circumstances; our food producers and delivery drivers who have ensured that the food we need is there when we need it; and our third sector which has found new ways to support our people.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds our global understanding of the disease, we will need to continue to work together to ensure that we protect ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation from the threat presented by COVID-19.
The path before us is through uncharted territory and will need careful navigation. Our guiding values should be kindness, compassion, openness and transparency.
While we hope that scientific advances, such as treatments and a vaccine, will provide solutions in the longer term, in the more immediate future we will need to learn to live with this virus, possibly for some time to come. Our challenge therefore is to work out if and how we can continue to suppress it and minimise its harms, while restoring some semblance of normality to our everyday lives. We will always take a careful approach that seeks to protect life and reduce harm.
These decisions will not be easy. The challenge and necessary change that lie ahead of us will require us to adapt how we live our lives. That will require a concerted effort from all parts of Scottish society. Individual and collective responsibility will be needed to keep our country safe and we will need to draw on the collective ingenuity, innovation, creativity and perseverance that Scotland’s people have at their core.
Everyone in Scotland has a part to play.
The document that follows sets out some of these challenges and how we will approach them. This is very much the first version of what will be a living document – we will update it as evidence, modelling, and our assessment of the different options open to us develops.
First Minister of Scotland