The Scottish Government is concerned that the phenomena of “vaccination optimism” could encourage people to stop taking basic precautions against the threat of Covid.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the public had to be aware that even when vaccinated, basic rules such as wearing face coverings, would still need to be in place “for a considerable time”.
Both the public and government, he said, would have to be “canny” about dealing with the virus whenever lockdown begins to ease, but avoided saying if there was yet a sequence to how society might be opened up.
At the government’s daily briefing, he said sequencing would be important, but added: “I think if I’ve got a worry, it’s about vaccination optimism. [The idea] that ‘once I’m vaccinated I don’t have to follow lots of the constraints and restrictions in place’. But we’re going to have to require people to follow the basic rules, like wearing face coverings for some considerable time. How long is that? I don’t know the answer yet, but people are going to have to accept some limitations, even when we’re all vaccinated, about how we interact because the virus will still be there and a threat to us all.
“We’re all going to have to take a canny approach in the period going forward about how we plan. Obviously there’ll be affects of that on different sectors of the economy. What the government has tried to do is look a that impact, take measures to support sectors and help them get through a really disruptive and damaging period to life as we know it.”
The issue of a lockdown easing sequencing was raised after comments made by National Clinical Director Jason Leith to civil servants earlier this week about not booking holidays abroad for the foreseeable future, as well as general concerns about children being out of school long-term.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Colin Smyth had said his comments discouraging Scots from booking summer holidays, possibly until 2022, were “flippant speculation” and sent “a signal to airline companies – deciding what routes across the world to target their smaller fleets at – that Scotland will be closed for business for a long time to come”.
He added: “That could have a devastating impact on a Scottish tourism sector that’s already on its knees, and lead to more job losses in an aviation sector already shedding thousands of posts.”
However Mr Leitch said no-one knew “what the world is going to look like” by the end of this year. He also raised the effect of “vaccine optimism” and added: “But there’s also global vaccination – will you be able to travel to a country that’s struggled with vaccination rollout? We simply do not know the answer to that.”
On easing lockdown, he added: “I said it would be slow, it would be gradual and we will have to think carefully in our advice to ministers about what should open when, and schools will be a priority and I also think places of worship should be a priority, but with the new variant and lessons from the summer it will have to be gradual.”