'THE Coronavirus crisis has dominated all aspects of life recently, including proceedings at Holyrood, but we now have some idea of how life might be after lockdown.

At the time of writing, draft documents from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which were seen by a daily newspaper, outlined some of the measures that may be taken to get people back to work.

The documents say that extra cleaning should be introduced in office spaces and underlines how protective equipment should be considered where maintaining a distance of two metres between workers is not possible.

They also laid out proposals for workers who have customer-facing jobs – plastic screens should be installed to help protect them, while home working and staggered shifts should also be encouraged.

These plans are part of a list of guidelines contained in documents devised following talks with executives, trade bodies and trade unions. Under these plans, millions of companies will have to draw up a Covid-19 risk assessment, prior to allowing staff to return to work.

The guidance also says social distancing will have to be maintained everywhere, including shop floors, shopping queues or in communal spaces.

Meanwhile, a new Parliamentary committee has been formed, the Covid-19 Committee, and I was asked to be the Convener of this new body. The purpose of the committee is to scrutinise the legislation introduced by the Scottish Government to deal with the crisis, and to hear reports from Ministers on the exercise of their powers.

In addition, the committee is taking a forward look at overall strategy towards tackling the epidemic, particularly in relation to the relaxation of the current lockdown.

I know that there are many individuals and businesses who are particularly interested in the existing lockdown, and when it might end. Overall, the lockdown arrangements have very substantial public support, as people do realise that these have been necessary in order to keep the infection rate down and reduce pressure on the NHS.

However, we all recognise that the lockdown can’t last forever. There is a real risk that if the lockdown ends we see a second, or subsequent, wave of the virus, which risks overwhelming the NHS.

This is a risk we can’t afford to take. For that reason, any relaxation of the lockdown needs to be led by the science and is likely to be done in a phased manner over an extended period of time.

The Scottish Government has given assurances that they will ease some of the restrictions when it is safe to do so and the BEIS documents give us an idea of what the new ‘normal’ may look like.

However, social distancing measures will be with us for many months to come, unless a vaccine can be developed.

Finally, we should all recognise and applaud the huge efforts of our NHS staff and other key workers at these difficult times, and the personal risk that they are putting themselves in order to protect us all'.

Murdo Fraser always welcomes feedback from constituents. He can be contacted at The Control Tower, Perth Airport, Scone, PH2 6PL, by email on murdo.fraser.msp@parliament.scot or by telephone on 01738 553676.