She confirmed that there would be no change to the current restrictions, which will remain in place until at least the end of this month, and that the phased return of schools is to start as planned on Monday 22 February.
She also said that the Scottish Government is preparing a revised Strategic Framework to set a gradual route out of the restrictions. It is hoped that the updated framework will be published next week following discussions with opposition parties, business organisations and trade unions, third sector bodies and others.
It will set out as far as possible the conditions that need to be met, in terms of the data, for lifting restrictions and it will detail the broad order of priority for re-opening, including what a return to a geographic levels approach might look like in due course.
In addition, retail, tourist, hospitality and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 under proposals outlined today by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. It is one of a series of measures proposed following confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government COVID-19 spending. Further information is available here.
And, two funds to support people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic are now open to applications. Grants will be available for mobile and home-based close contact service businesses – such as make-up artists, hairdressers and registered driving instructors – and the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, which paid out more than £11 million in vital support last year, will also re-open for a second round.