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Scotland accelerates easing of Covid restrictions

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Written by: Emma Lunn
15/04/2021
Six people from six households can meet outdoors from tomorrow, while Scots can also travel within Scotland for outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise.

These restrictions were previously due to be eased from 26 April but have been brought forward to 16 April as data shows continued progress on vaccination against coronavirus and suppression of the virus in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said: “So from the end of this week, you will be able to meet up with family and friends who live in different parts of the country. Many of those reunions will be long-awaited, and much anticipated. Please do remember that meetings at this stage must still be outdoors – you cannot socialise in people’s homes – and remember due to physical distancing, public transport capacity remains relatively limited.”

However, Scots must continue to ‘Stay Local’ for other purposes such as non-essential shopping, while public transport capacity will continue to be limited. Socialising in homes is still not permitted.

Should data permit, the whole of Scotland, including all island communities, will then be in Level 3 from Monday 26 April. This will mean:

  • non-essential travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted, and tourist accommodation in Scotland can reopen subject to socialising rules
  • shops will be able to fully reopen with precautions including physical distancing requirements, face masks and hand sanitiser in place
  • gyms and indoor sports facilities, including swimming pools, will reopen for individual exercise, with group activities permitted for under-18s, and all organised outdoor activity can resume except adult contact sport
  • limits on attendance at life events, including weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and receptions for those will increase to 50, with alcohol permitted
  • pubs, cafes and restaurants will reopen outdoors for groups of up to six people from up to six households with alcohol in line with local licencing laws, and indoors for groups of up to six people from up to two households without alcohol until 20:00
  • takeaways will be able to resume normal service, with physical distancing and face masks in premises
  • mobile close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons can resume
  • non-essential work in other people’s homes will resume

Sturgeon said: “We have made significant progress in reducing the number of new Covid cases in Scotland, partly due to the success of the vaccination programme but also because so many people have stuck so well to the rules. Daily cases are at the lowest level since September, and have declined more than 85% since early January.

“After consulting with island communities we have decided to align islands with the rest of Scotland for a period so that travel, and therefore parts of the economy that so many islanders rely on, can operate more normally from 26 April. Let me reassure those who would have preferred to see the islands move to Level 2 at the end of April that we do expect at least a move to Level 2 to happen on 17 May.

“More generally, we currently expect the whole country to move to at least Level 2 on 17 May, to Level 1 in early June, and to Level 0 in late June. Reaching Level 0 is not the extent of our ambitions, and later on in the summer as the number of people who have been vaccinated increases further we hope that a level of normality well beyond Level 0 will become possible.”

Wales has also announced plans to speed up the relaxing of restrictions, with people being allowed to form an extended household, visit the gym or take part in organised outdoor activities a week earlier than planned.

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