As if to prove that these are fast-moving times, since I last wrote for the Orkney News, the Scottish Government has published not one but three documents looking at how we in Scotland can manage our way through and out of the Coronavirus crisis to a ‘new normal’.
The Framework for Decision Making outlined our principles and approach to taking this path, and established our pledge to inform, and listen to, the people of Scotland as we progress. In the two weeks since it was published we have continued to see signs of hope, not least in the declining numbers of people requiring intensive care treatment as a result of COVID-19. This is testament to the sacrifices we have all made in staying at home and to the courageous work of our health and care services.
In Orkney there have been seven confirmed cases as I write this on Tuesday, although true numbers are likely to be significantly higher and sadly two deaths in the county have been attributed to the virus.
However, each day brings news of more people in Scotland who have sadly lost their lives to this cruel disease and so our absolute commitment to suppressing the virus remains.
Monday saw the publication of a document looking at our “test, trace, isolate, support” approach, which will be key to keeping levels of infection low once they are lower than at present. This will involve us all.
Tuesday’s update to the decision-making framework included examples of the steps that might form part of the initial changes to the current restrictions. It is not a list of things the government will definitely do by certain dates – this is going to be a long process with different phases along the way. While the evidence indicates that there is very little room to change restrictions in Scotland right now, we are using this time to consider options for changes when it does become safe to introduce them.
For example, we are working with our partners in the Education Recovery Group to ensure that our schools and the way we use them will be safe. We are also urgently considering how we can safely resume aspects of our health service that were deferred to create additional COVID-19 capacity, to ensure that urgent need is addressed. This approach to redesigning processes, services and workplaces is being replicated across the country as we move towards the ‘new normal’.
Amid the uncertainty, I was delighted on Tuesday, in my role as Minister for Children and Young People, to be able to write to stakeholders to confirm that the Bill for the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law will go ahead as originally planned.
In times of emergency, it is as important as ever to respect human rights, and we as the Scottish Government are absolutely committed to this move, and will introduce a Bill this year, in line with the original timescale.
Stay strong folks.
This is a regular column by Maree Todd MSP, SNP. All list MSPs for the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.