Friday 24 April, 2020

Everyone wants to know when this will end. Businesses and individuals all want more details, answers, or least a ‘general idea’.

To that end, the Scottish Government has published “COVID-19 – A Framework for Decision Making”, making it the first in the UK to set out the principles that will underpin its choices about how and when restrictions will be lifted. Like all senior political leaders, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon knows that the current ‘lockdown’ is  not sustainable indefinitely. This document is the first small step out of it.

In her press conference today, she was at pains to stress that this is the ‘first version’ of a ‘living document’. It is designed to inform us all about how these very difficult decisions will be reached and on what criteria. There was a plea for all us to read it, understand it and crucially, engage with it.

The Government’s messaging today, and for the past few weeks generally, has been shifting towards getting people to understand there will be a ‘new normal’. Restrictions will be lifted very gradually and they may need to return. From a communications perspective, getting this messaging right is an enormous challenge.

Keeping the public engaged, ensuring the messaging is clear, and maintaining their confidence is very difficult and the First Minister has acknowledged that they won’t always get it right. The frankness of that and the honest tone of this Framework is something we might not expect in normal times, but now have come to hope for and maybe expect.

While this won’t be nearly the level of detail some wanted, we shouldn’t feel powerless. In the coming weeks there will be a cascade of further guidance on a sector by sector basis. As the First Minister and the Framework both made clear, there is an opportunity to engage with Government and other stakeholders to help inform and shape their response. It is incumbent on us all to contribute to this process. As the First Minister said in the preface, “Everyone in Scotland has a part to play.”

Our Public Affairs team has prepared this brief on the Framework, which we hope you find useful.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Luke Skipper, Head of Public Affairs