Scotland

Coronavirus: Dominic Raab says governments still 'work as a team'

Dominic Raab Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dominic Raab said the UK-wide approach to the virus had been "remarkably successful" so far

The UK's governments will "work as a team" even as different parts of the country exit lockdown at "different speeds", Dominic Raab has said.

The foreign secretary said he respected that Scottish ministers had the right to make "different judgement calls".

Boris Johnson has urged more people in England to return to work, telling them to "stay alert" rather than "at home".

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says this does not apply in Scotland, saying existing rules remain in force.

The prime minister is to set out further detail about his "roadmap" for easing the coronavirus lockdown later on Monday, having encouraged more people to go back to work in a televised address on Sunday night.

Ms Sturgeon has said the only change she is minded to make in the immediacy is to allow more outdoor exercise.

Mr Johnson unveiled "the first careful steps" to ease the virus lockdown on Sunday evening, saying that people in England who cannot work from home should return to the workplace.

However, Ms Sturgeon stressed that this did not apply in Scotland, saying: "I am not, at this stage, asking anybody who is not working to go back to work."

Ministers have agreed that different parts of the country could ease restrictions at different speeds, with the infection rate thought to currently be higher in Scotland than in England.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon has asked UK ministers not to display their new advertising north of the border, where the Stay Home message still applies

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Raab drew a comparison with Germany, where different regions have made different decisions under the country's federal model.

He said: "We've always recognised that we want to, wherever possible, have a UK-wide approach, and that has been remarkably successful to date with compliance and adherence to the social-distancing measures being broadly the same in all four nations of the UK.

"But I also respect and recognise that the Scottish government have got the prerogative to make different judgement calls, and different parts of the UK and indeed different regions within the UK could move at slightly different speeds."

'Modest divergences'

The foreign secretary added: "We will see different nations move at slightly different speeds, and that's also reflective of the fact that the prevalence and the transmission rate of the virus is at different stages in different parts of the UK.

"The judgement call for each of the nations will ultimately be made in Scotland by the first minister, by the first minister in Wales and the same in Northern Ireland, and we will respect that.

"Overall, we're working very carefully within Cobra, within cabinet office meetings - we had one over the weekend with all the first ministers - to work as a team as much as we possibly can while still respecting modest divergences where the first minister of Scotland decides that's the road she wants to take."

Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon has continued to use "stay at home" prominently in her government's messaging

Ms Sturgeon has always insisted that she still backs a "four nation" approach, but that she will not hesitate to make different decisions where they are backed by scientific evidence.

On Monday morning, she told the BBC that she was keeping advice to people in Scotland "under review", but ultimately it "has not changed".

Mr Raab also said that people in England could "meet up with other people" from outside of their own household, as long as they are outdoors and stay 2m (6ft) apart - something Ms Sturgeon said was not being encouraged north of the border.

The first minister said: "The once a day limit on exercise has been removed, but you must still stay two metres from people outwith your own household.

"We are not encouraging people to meet up more with others, but to stick to the rules for a bit longer so we can get this virus down and start being able to ease restrictions in a more meaningful way."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People in England may soon be able to meet relatives in parks - but this is not encouraged in Scotland

Ms Sturgeon has maintained the "stay at home" message as Mr Johnson has switched to "stay alert", displaying it prominently in her interviews and media briefings - and has asked the UK government not to display its new adverts in Scotland.

She said: "We are asking people to stay at home. That is the foundation of the advice we are giving. Unless you are leaving home for essential purposes, the advice is to stay at home.

"All leaders worldwide right now are asking people to do things that are highly restrictive, and the duty on us is to be as clear as possible, not to muddy the water or mix messages, but to be clear why we are asking people to do that. I make no apology for the fact I'm erring on the side of caution.

"I'd love to say go and see your mum and dad, but I must err on the side of caution until we have more confidence that this virus is under control, and we can then ease restrictions and keep it under control with a mixture of social distancing and test-trace-isolate."

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