The Scottish Government wants to make sure this lockdown is the last, the Deputy First Minister has said.
Scotland was forced into lockdown in early January after a spike in coronavirus cases, with schools closed to all but the children of key workers and the vulnerable, along with the shuttering of most retail and hospitality businesses.
But John Swinney said he and his ministerial colleagues will be working to ensure this is the last lockdown imposed on Scotland.
As some pupils returned to school on Monday, Mr Swinney told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We want to make sure it’s the last lockdown, we want to avoid another lockdown as much as we possibly can do, because the lockdown is having a severe impact on every part of our society, in particular on the wellbeing of individuals, and we are very, very concerned about that.
“Essentially we want to make sure we do the right things just now to suppress the virus to as low a level as we possibly can do in society.
“We’ve made huge progress.”
Mr Swinney’s comments echo those of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said last week that she hoped this would be the last instance where the toughest restrictions were required, and confirmed Scotland is still seeking to eliminate Covid19.
The Deputy First Minister said case numbers were at 300 per 100,000 people in Scotland at the beginning of lockdown, while the figure is now “just over 100”.
He added: “Enormous progress has been made by the sacrifices of members of the public, but we want to suppress the virus to a greater extent possible so that it doesn’t run away from us.”
The Scottish Government is looking to ensure the virus is not “galloping away” in the future, Mr Swinney said, as it had been before restrictions were tightened.
“One of the biggest considerations and concerns that ministers in Scotland have is that we do not want to see this virus galloping away from us again,” he said.
“It galloped away from us just after Christmas and we had to move into lockdown.
“We want to avoid a similar circumstance arising in the future, that’s why we’re treading with such caution.”
Asked if there is a certain level the Scottish Government wants to see virus drop to, the Deputy First Minister refused to give a definitive answer, instead saying: “We just need to try to get it as low as we possibly can do.”
Also speaking on Monday, Professor Devi Sridhar, chairwoman of public health at Edinburgh University and an adviser to the Scottish Government, said the vaccine makes eliminating the virus in Scotland easier.
She told Good Morning Scotland: “I think we’ll get there now with the vaccine, I think it’s inevitable.
“Once we have managed to vaccinate a large percentage of our population and we’re suppressing, we’re heading towards elimination.”
Prof Sridhar added: “It’s a measles model, in my view. We don’t accept large measles outbreaks – we try to vaccinate and do outbreak response – and I think that’s where we’re headed with Covid.”