A handout picture released by the Scottish Government, April 6, 2020, shows Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, at St. Andrew's House, Edinburgh.
FILE - A handout photo released by the Scottish Government April 6, 2020, shows Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking during the daily corinavirus briefing, at St. Andrew's House, in Edinburgh.

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Wednesday offered her plans for easing COVID-19 restrictions but said many of the measures and practices are likely to be in place for the rest of this year and perhaps beyond.

Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said while fighting the virus is her number-one goal, she also recognizes the harm the lockdown and other measures are doing to the economy, education and living standards. She said there must be a balance between fighting the virus and keeping the economy afloat.

With that in mind, Sturgeon said her plan allows some businesses and schools to reopen, as long as social distancing guidelines are strictly followed.

But knowing the very real risk is that COVID-19 could run rampant again, Sturgeon said “a return to ‘normal’ as we know it is not in the cards.”

The first minister said that until there is a vaccine or treatments offer other options, social distancing and limited contact between people will be a way of life for the remainder of 2020, and perhaps beyond.

She said that the steps forward would be guided by scientific evidence and careful monitoring of statistics but invited the public to participate in a "grown-up discussion" to find flexible solutions that would enable an easing of the lockdown.

Scotland on Thursday reported 9,409 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, an increase of 371 cases compared to the day before.

A total of 1,120 people with COVID-19 have died in Scotland.

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