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Nicola Sturgeon

out of lockdown

Out of lockdown, next step from 17 May

Out of lockdown – the new rules, which come into effect on Monday 17 May

People will be able to hug their loved ones and meet in private homes as most of mainland Scotland moves to Level 2, Out of lockdown, with eased restrictions on hospitality, entertainment, education and sport.

In an acceleration of previous plans, the number of people and households that can meet inside homes in Level 2 has been increased to six people from three households.

The new rules, which come into effect on Monday 17 May, Out of lockdown, will apply to all mainland local authority areas with the exception of Moray, which is experiencing a high and increasing number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. As a result Moray is likely to remain in Level 3 for a further period, with travel in and out of the area prohibited other than for permitted purposes. A final decision on this will be made at the end of this week.

As the virus is now sufficiently under control in the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and remote Highland and Argyll islands, these communities are expected to move straight to Level 1.

From 17 May, anyone entering Scotland from countries on a new international travel ‘Green List’ will not be required to quarantine on arrival, but will have to take a PCR test for COVID-19. The Green List will initially be the same as that in place for England but will be subject to review based on Scotland’s specific needs.

Under Level 2 restrictions:

  • Out of lockdown – up to six people from three households will be able to meet in each other’s homes or gardens without physical distancing – this was the limit previously planned for Level 1 but has now been accelerated for areas in Level 2. People will be encouraged to use their judgment about close physical contact with others
  • Out of lockdown – up to six people from three households will be able to meet indoors in places such as pubs, cafes and restaurants, while up to eight people from eight households will be able to meet outdoors
  • Out of lockdown – pubs and restaurants will be able to serve alcohol indoors until 10:30pm in two-hour booked slots
  • Out of lockdown – venues including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music venues, comedy clubs, amusement arcades, casinos, snooker halls and bingo halls will be able to reopen
  • Out of lockdown – events will resume with a maximum capacity of 100 people indoors, 250 outdoors where there is unrestricted standing and 500 for events with seating. Organisers will be allowed to apply to hold bigger events
  • Out of lockdown – outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercise classes will be able to restart
  • Out of lockdown – more than one person will be able to sing during religious services
  • Out of lockdown – amateur performing arts groups will be able to perform outdoors
  • Out of lockdown – colleges and universities will have more flexibility to resume in-person learning

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The success of the vaccination programme, and continued high compliance with the various rules and restrictions, means that we have seen continued suppression of the virus in the last three weeks. As a result the situation overall is a very positive one, and we are now in a position to relax more restrictions and restore much more normality to our everyday lives.

“I know just how unwelcome the likelihood of a further period in Level 3 must be to people in Moray, and we are doing everything possible to ensure that any extension of Level 3 is for as short a period as possible. I would appeal to everyone living in the region to follow all the public health advice so that we can get the situation back under control and allow Moray to get back on a positive track just as quickly as possible.

“It is almost eight months since most of us have been able to meet in each other’s homes. While I know all of us have been looking forward to being able to do that again, I would encourage everyone to please use judgement – close physical contact still carries risk, so if you have loved ones who are vulnerable for any reason, you should still be careful. And you should perhaps limit the overall number of people that you choose to have close physical contact with.    

“We still intend to be highly cautious on international travel, given the risk of new variants, but we consider that the situation now allows us to begin a careful move away from blanket restrictions on non-essential travel. Everyone should think seriously about whether they really need to travel abroad this summer. I know for many people international travel is about family connections. But when it comes to holidays abroad, my advice continues to be to err on the side of caution and to staycation this summer.”

Background

Coronavirus (COVID-19) protection levels: what you can do

Level 1 restrictions will apply from Monday in:

  • the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney
  • all islands in Highland, except for Skye given its fixed link with the mainland
  • the Inner Hebrides islands in Argyll, including Islay, Jura and Mull

Countries on the green list are:

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

If you enter Scotland from a red list country – one of the countries identified as acute-risk under our current regulations – you will be required to enter a managed isolation hotel and stay there for 10 days. Due to changes coming into force from tomorrow, those countries will include Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal.

If you arrive from a country on the amber list – which will be the majority of countries – you must self-isolate at home for 10 days, and take two PCR tests during this period.

A new app – Check in Scotland – was launched at the end of April, to help Test and Protect easily contact people who need to self isolate. Please download and use the app if you can.

Scotland

Scotland move to level 3

Scotland move to level 3 – significant easing of restrictions across retail, hospitality and travel.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced details of the further relaxation of restrictions across Scotland.

From Monday 26 April, hospitality venues such as cafes, pubs and restaurants can reopen, along with tourist accommodation.

Non-essential retail outlets and close contact services such as beauty salons can also reopen, in addition to indoor attractions and public buildings such as galleries, museums and libraries.

The First Minister confirmed that all parts of the country will move to Level 3 from Monday 26 April. The remaining travel restrictions within Scotland will be lifted and travel within the UK will be permitted for any purpose.

If everyone continues to follow the rules, the First Minister said it is expected that all of Scotland will move to Level 2 on Monday 17 May.

Further changes from 26 April include:

  • Adults on the shielding list can return to the workplace, if they cannot work from home, while children who have been shielding can return to school
  • Non-essential work inside people’s homes – such as painting, decorating or repairing – will be permitted, subject to mitigations
  • Non-essential informal childcare will resume
  • Driving lessons and tests can take place, while gyms and swimming pools can reopen for individual exercise
  • The attendance limit for funerals and weddings – and related events such as receptions – will increase to 50
  • Cafes, pubs and restaurants can resume full outdoor service, subject to local licensing, and serve food indoors without alcohol until 8pm
  • Takeaways to resume normal service, with physical distancing and face masks in premises
Scotland, Peterhead

The First Minister also announced that rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests will be made available to anyone in Scotland and to those planning travel to the islands.

From today, anyone planning travel to the islands next week can order a free home test kit online. The first test should be taken three days before travel and the second on the day of departure.

From Monday, lateral flow home test kits will be available to anyone in the wider population who does not have COVID-19 symptoms. They can be picked up from local walk/drive-through test sites for people to test themselves twice-weekly. Anyone in Scotland who develops COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and book a PCR test.

The expansion is aimed at finding cases that would otherwise go undetected, so those people can self-isolate and avoid transmitting the virus to those around them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: 

“The changes that come into force next week have been hard earned by all of us. I know that many will be looking forward – quite rightly – to their first drink in a beer garden, to catching up with a friend in a café, or to going on holiday somewhere in Scotland.

“But even as we enjoy those moments, we still need to be careful. We must remember the virus is more infectious now than it was when bars and cafés were last open, so we must still stick to the rules. However, we are hopeful of seeing sustained progress in the weeks and months ahead.

“We are keeping island communities in Level 3 at the moment, so that we can allow travel between those communities and the rest of Scotland. If you are planning to travel to an island and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, we will encourage you to take two lateral flow tests for COVID-19 before you depart. This is an important way to reduce the risk of bringing COVID-19 into island communities. If you are travelling to an island next week, it is possible to get tests from today, and I would encourage you to do that.”

Scotland lockdown updates

Scotland lockdown updates: Peterhead will move to level 3 Covid-19 restrictions on April 26

Scotland lockdown updates Nicola Sturgeon also outlined the potential dates for Scotland’s start From 16 April.

Scottish vaccination

From 16 April – Travel restrictions lifted and more people can meet up

The latest announcement on Scotland’s journey out of lockdown means people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings from Friday.

In addition, people will also be permitted to travel across Scotland and Aberdeenshire as long as they do not stay overnight.

These changes had not been due to come into force until 26 April but the Scottish government said they were being made earlier than originally planned in an effort to boost people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Scotland lockdown updates: 19 April – All schools reopen

Virtually all pupils will return to school full time after the Easter holidays.

The only exception is for those in the shielding category, who must stay at home until 26 April.

Secondary school pupils will no longer have to follow strict two metre physical distancing rules when they return, but they must wear face coverings at all times.

All primary school pupils had returned full-time by mid March, but before the Easter break secondary pupils were taught using blended learning – a mix of home and classroom study.

Scotland lockdown updates

Scotland lockdown updates: End of April – Shops, gyms and beer gardens

All remaining shops and close contact services like nail salons are due to reopen on 26 April.

Pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants and bars will be able to serve people outdoors – in groups of up to six from six households – until 22:00 from that date. Alcohol will be permitted, and there will be no requirement for food to be served.

Takeaways will be able to resume normal service, with physical distancing and face masks worn in premises

There will also be a partial resumption of indoor hospitality – food and non-alcoholic drinks can be served until 20:00 for groups of up to four people from no more than two households. Contact details will still need to be collected.

Indoor gyms and swimming pools will be allowed to open for individual exercise, driving lessons and tests will take place, and non-essential work in people’s homes can resume.

Scotland will return to a levels system, with the entire country initially moving to a modified version of the current level three restrictions.

Island communities – which have been in level three for some time – will stay in the same level as the mainland at first to allow people to travel between areas.

Non-essential journeys to other parts of the UK and the wider common travel area should also be permitted from 26 April.

Tourist accommodation, museums, galleries, libraries can also open from this date.

The number of people allowed to attend a wedding or funeral rises to 50.

People on the shielding list will be able to return to work, college, school or nursery.

Scotland lockdown updates: Middle of the May – Cinemas, bingo and meeting up indoors

Three weeks later, on 17 May it is hoped most, if not all, council areas will be able to move from level three to level two, allowing much more normality.

People should at last be allowed to meet up inside others’ homes (although this could happen sooner) – initially in groups of up to four people from no more than two households.

Indoor hospitality is expected to resume with alcohol being served and pubs or restaurants allowed to stay open until 22:30 with two-hour time-limited booking slots.

Cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades can now reopen.

Outdoor and indoor events such as concerts can also restart, but capacity may be limited initially.

Restrictions on meeting up outdoors will ease further. Adult outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercises can resume.

More students will be back at university or college but with blended learning continuing. Face-to-face support services such as counselling can take place.

Scotland lockdown updates: Early June – Almost back to normal

The hope is that from 1 June, all of Scotland can move to level one – and by the end of the month to level zero, the lowest category of the five tier system.

In early June it is hoped up to six people from three households can socialise indoors, at home or in a public place.

Outside up to eight people from three households can meet while for 12 to 17-year-olds the limit on the number of households rises to eight.

Hospitality will be able to stay open until 23:00 and the number of constraints on events such as concerts will be relaxed.

Indoor non-contact sport will resume. Casinos, funfairs and soft play can re-open.

The risk of importing new variants of Covid means a big question mark hangs over non-essential international travel, for instance for holidays.

It will almost certainly not be allowed before mid-May, and the government warns it may not resume for some time after that.

When it is allowed, pre-departure and post-arrival testing will remain a requirement.

From the end of June there will be a phased return of some office staff and increased numbers at places of worship or other events such as weddings.

First minister

First Minister confirms almost all Scottish pupils return to school after Easter holidays

First minister announced – there are some changes to the rules, including the removal of the two metre distance between pupils as schools are told to “improve ventilation”.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed today that “virtually all” of Scotland’s high school pupils will be making a full-time return to education after the Easter holidays.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed students will be allowed to return as normal after two weeks off for the half-term break following an assessment of relevant data. There is an exception for children on the shielding list who are recommended to stay at home until April 26.

She said “When the Easter holidays end, virtually all pupils will return to school full-time, so secondary schools will go back to in-person, full-time learning.”

First Minister
First Minister confirms almost all Scottish pupils return to school after Easter holidays

The two-metre physical distancing rule will be scrapped while twice weekly Covid-19 testing is to be introduced in Scotland for staff and students. Nicola Sturgeon said schools should consider how to “strengthen other mitigations” such as ventilation.

Secondary pupils have so far only been able to spend a limited amount of time in the classroom after the Scottish Government closed schools to most pupils for a second time at the beginning of this year.

Business start re-open

Business start reopening after lockdown in Scotland from Monday 5 April

Business start reopening, cautious easing of lockdown

Hairdressers, garden centres, car showrooms and forecourts, homeware stores and non-essential click and collect services will be able to open from Monday 5 April Business start reopening after lockdown, subject to enhanced safety measures including physical distancing, face coverings and pre-booking where appropriate.

More college students will be able to return to on-campus learning and 12-17 year-olds will be able to resume outdoor contact sports from this date.

Restrictions on non-essential travel across local authority boundaries will remain in place.

People must stay within their council area for non-essential shopping and should only travel to another area for essential shopping if there are no practical alternatives.

People should also continue to work from home where they can to prevent unnecessary contact that could risk transmission of the virus.

Business start re-open
Business start reopening after lockdown

The latest easing of restrictions comes as data shows continued suppression of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and progress on vaccination. Virtually all over 65 year olds have now received a first dose of the vaccine, and the average daily case rate is now 539 new cases per day, a decline of more than 75% since early January.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“We have made progress both in suppressing the virus and in vaccination, and therefore the changes I previously indicated will go ahead on 5 April.

“The stay at home rule is being replaced by a requirement to stay local – while Covid levels remain high in some areas, and while a lot of people remain unvaccinated, we do not want the virus to spread from areas with relatively high prevalence to areas with low rates of infection. That’s why the current travel restrictions, which prevent non-essential travel outside your local authority area, are really important.

Lockdown Timetable
Business start reopening

“It will be easier to relax more restrictions in the future if case numbers remain under control, so when things open up slightly this weekend please continue to stick to the rules, and follow the advice and the instructions given by store staff to keep you and the other customers safe.

“Stay at home – for now – protect the NHS, and follow the FACTS advice when you are out and about to help save lives.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister’s statement – 30 March 2021 – gov.scot

Guidance will be updated on Friday and Monday to take account of the changes confirmed today.

During the pre-election period the usual parliamentary protocol applies and draft regulations will be shared with the COVID-19 Committee.

Consultation with sectors still to reopen is ongoing, towards further decisions on easing to be taken ahead of the next review point on 26 April.

Lockdown Timetable

Lockdown Timetable for further easing update from 2 April

Lockdown Timetable the current “Stay at Home” rule will be replaced by guidance to “Stay Local” on 2 April.

The First Minister has set out a Lockdown Timetable for the re-opening of parts of society over the next two months.

Lockdown Timetable – Stay at Home regulations will be lifted on 2 April and replaced with guidance to Stay Local, with more services including hairdressers, garden centres and non-essential click and collect services able to open from 5 April.

More college students will also return to on-campus learning and outdoor contact sports will resume for 12-17 year olds on 5 April if progress on vaccination and suppression of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues.

The Scottish Government then hopes to lift all restrictions on journeys in mainland Scotland on 26 April. Discussions will be held with island communities already in lower levels on the possibility of having a faster return to more socialising and hospitality with restrictions on mainland travel to protect against importation of the virus.

Lockdown Timetable
Lockdown Timetable

Vaccination of all nine JCVI priority groups – more than half of the population, accounting for 99% of COVID-related fatalities – is expected to be completed by mid April, supplies allowing. The dates outlined are enabled by strong new evidence that suggests vaccines reduce the chances of transmitting the virus as well as reducing serious illness and death, even after a first dose.

Lockdown Timetable Further expected easing on 26 April includes:

  • all retail premises, libraries, museums and galleries, tourist accommodation would be able to open
  • the hospitality sector would be able to reopen outdoors for the service of alcohol, and potentially open indoors for non-alcohol service
  • up to four people from two households could be able to socialise indoors in a public place such as a café or restaurant
  • six people from up to three households could be able to meet outdoors and the limit on wedding and funeral attendance could be raised to 50 people
  • gyms and swimming pools would be open for individual exercise and non-essential childcare would be permitted
  • non-essential work in peoples’ homes and driving lessons could resume from this date

On 17 May, it is hoped that groups of four people from two households would be able to socialise indoors in a private home, and that cinemas, amusement arcades and small scale outdoor and indoor events could restart with limits on capacity. Further easing on this date would include outdoor contact sport for adults and indoor group exercise

The Nicola Sturgeon also indicated that in early June it is hoped that Scotland Lockdown Timetable could move to Level 1 and by end of June to level 0.

Grants of up to £7,500 for retailers and up to £19,500 for hospitality and leisure businesses will be paid in April to help businesses re-open progressively. These one-off re-start grants will replace ongoing Strategic Framework Business Fund (SFBF) payments and will provide more money up front to help with the costs of re-opening.

Eligible businesses must have applied to the SFBF by 22 March in order to receive these payments. The last four-weekly SFBF payment of up to £3,000 will be paid on 22 March, as scheduled. Targeted restart grants for businesses that are not in scope for the current SFBF support package may be considered if the Scottish Government receives further consequentials from the UK Government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Vaccination is already having a significant impact on the number of deaths in Scotland, and research giving us more confidence in its effects against new variants and in helping prevent transmission. That gives us more confidence in setting possible dates for our next steps out of lockdown in addition to the significant changes set out last week to allow more socialisation, and get children back to school as soon as possible.

“It is not possible to provide specific dates or details for coming out of lockdown beyond 17 May – that will depend on what impact there is from the changes already made – however my hope and ambition is that from early June, all of Scotland will effectively be in level 1 of the levels system, allowing for a further easing of restrictions – and possibly moving to level 0 in late June.

“That is not the endpoint – we hope and expect that vaccination, better treatments, continued use of the test and protect system, and proportionate ongoing precautions such as good hand hygiene will allow us to keep COVID under much greater control.

This will allow us to enjoy many of the things that we took for granted before the pandemic– normal family gatherings where we can hug our loved ones, sporting events, gigs and nightclubs. I cannot set a date for that point yet, but I do believe that over the coming weeks as more and more adults are vaccinated it will be possible to set a firmer date by which many of these normal things will be possible, and I am very optimistic that this date will be over the summer.

“Thanks to the sacrifices we all made three months ago, and the success of the vaccination programme we are now in a much better and brighter position, with well-earned optimism as we look ahead to the summer.

We are getting the virus under control, but it is still dangerous, and to reach these dates it’s more important than ever now to stay within the rules – until 2 April stay at home, except for essential purposes; don’t meet people from other households indoors, and follow the FACTS advice when out and about.”

scotland pubs

Scotland Pubs and Cafes to reopen for outdoor service on 26 April

Scotland pubs and cafes, restaurants and bars will be able to serve people outdoors – in groups of up to 6 from 3 households – until 10pm from 26 April.

Alcohol will be permitted in Scotland Pubs, and there will be no requirement for food to be served.

There could be limited indoor opening of hospitality from 26 April too.

Scotland pubs

This will be limited initially to the service of food and non-alcoholic drinks until 8pm, and for groups of up to four people from no more than 2 households.

All remaining retail premises are expected to re-open on 26 April.

All tourist accommodation will be able to re-open, subject to any restrictions.

Libraries, museums and galleries will also reopen from 26 April.

Indoor gyms will also reopen for individual exercise on that date.

Monday 5 April will see the beginning of the phased re-opening of non essential retail.

Click and collect retail services will be permitted to reopen, along with homeware stores, and car showrooms and forecourts.

Garden centres will also be able to reopen on 5 April

Hairdresser and barber salons to reopen for appointments on 5 April.

Indoor meeting from 17 May

Up to four people from two household can socialise indoors in a private home or public space from 17 May.

Hospitality venues can open until 10:30 pm indoors (alcohol permitted, 2-hour dwell time) and 10:00 pm outdoors (alcohol permitted)

Outdoor adult contact sport and indoor group exercise can restart.

Cinemas, amusement arcades, and bingo halls can open.

Small-scale outdoor and indoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints.

Scotland lockdown

COVID-19 new restrictions changes

COVID-19 restrictions changes, more people will be able to socialise outdoors

More people will be able to socialise outdoors following good progress in suppressing Coronavirus – COVID-19, the First Minister has announced.

COVID-19

COVID-19 restrictions changes up to four adults from two households will be able to meet locally in any outdoor space, including in private gardens, for social and recreational purposes as well as exercise from Friday 12 March.

covid 19
COVID-19 restrictions changes, more people will be able to socialise outdoors

People should only go indoors if it is essential in order to reach a back garden, or to go to the toilet.

Outdoor non-contact sports and group exercise will also resume for adults in groups of up to to 15 people from this date.

Young people aged 12 to 17 will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to four people from four different households, participate in outdoor non-contact sports, and other organised activities in groups of up to 15 and travel across local authority boundaries to participate in such activities.

Should progress suppressing the virus continue, the Scottish Government intends to reopen places of worship with attendance limits increased from 20 to 50 where there is space for social distancing on Friday 26 March.

A final decision will be taken on Tuesday 23 March ahead of Passover, Easter, Ramadan and Vaisakhi.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“In recent weeks, we have seen a significant fall in new cases, deaths and hospital admissions, and the vaccination programme is progressing beyond our initial expectations.

All of this is excellent news, and provides strong grounds for hope, but that hope must also be balanced by caution.

“The changes announced today, while modest, are important, and are designed to help people’s health and well-being by enabling group exercise and allowing more social interaction.

They will also let children see more of their friends, and exercise and play more normally.

“With continued progress, we believe the reopening of places of worship can be achieved relatively safely, and will hopefully enable more people to draw strength, comfort and inspiration from acts of collective worship.

“I expect that further, more substantial changes will be possible in the weeks ahead, and I will set out as much detail as I can about that in Parliament next week.

If the data allows us to relax more restrictions more quickly than we have previously indicated, we will not hesitate to do so.

“We all have a part to play in keeping case numbers down while the vaccinators do their work, children get back to school and we all take tentative but firm steps back to life as we once knew it, so please continue to stay within the rules and follow the FACTS advice.”

Updated guidance and regulations will be published on Friday 12 March to reflect these changes.

The Scottish Government’s priority is to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible. There are six main tools for achieving this:

  • the quickest practical roll-out of the vaccination programme
  • the most effective use of Test and Protect
  • applying proportionate protective measures (rules and guidance) to suppress transmission of the virus
  • effective measures to manage the risk of importation of the virus
  • supporting individuals, businesses and organisations to adhere to protective measures
  • providing care and support to mitigate the harms of the crisis

The six conditions for safe easing set out by the World Health Organisation are:

  • COVID-19 transmission is under control
  • sufficient health systems and public health capabilities are in place
  • outbreak risks are minimised in vulnerable settings
  • workplace preventative measures are established
  • risk of imported cases are managed
  • communities are fully engaged

Scottish government’s the 4 phases plan.

Scottish government

What are the four phases of the Scottish government’s plan?

Phase 1 – (yesterday) early learning and childcare and schools open for Primary 1-3 pupils and senior phase pupils for essential practical work. Limited increase in the provision for vulnerable children.

Care homes opening to facilitate meaningful contact between relatives/ friends and residents.

Phase 2 – (unlikely before 15 March) – More school reopening – Non-contact outdoor group sports for 12-17 year olds. Socialising rules eased, to allow outdoor meetings of 4 people from 2 households.

Phase 3 – (at least three weeks later – possibly 5 April) Stay-at-Home requirement removed.

Third and final phase of schools reopening if required. Places of worship can open on a restricted numbers basis.

Essential retailers list expanded slightly and click-and-collect resumes for non-essential retail.

Phase 4 – possibly 26 April) Limited other easing within Level 4, including permitting non-essential work in people’s homes. Return to variable Levels approach.

This will enable the graduated opening up of economic and social activity.

Numbers who can meet outdoors set to be increased next month

The first minister emphasises how she hopes more pupils will return to school in Scotland from 15 March.

This will involve getting the remainder of primary school pupils and more senior phase secondary pupils back into the classroom for at least part of their learning.

Ms Sturgeon adds that she also hopes to restart outdoors non contact group sports for 12-17 year olds in this phase.

And it is hoped the limit on outdoor mixing between households will be increased from four people from a maximum of two households.

SUMMARY:

The reopening of Scotland‘s economy – including shops, bars, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers – is expected to start in the last week of April, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Scotland's economy

FM said there would be a “progressive easing” of restrictions before then, with four people from two households allowed to meet outdoors from 15 March.

All primary and more secondary school pupils could return from that date.

It is hoped to lift the stay at home restriction on 5 April.

Ms Sturgeon said it would be necessary to “rely very heavily” on restrictions to suppress the virus for “a bit longer”.

Scotland lockdown

Scotland lockdown, remain until at least the 28th of February.

Scotland lockdown will be extended until at least the end of February, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Scotland Lockdown: The First Minister says case numbers have “stabilised”, but relaxing the rules could “quickly send the situation into reverse”.

The first minister said that despite COVID-19 case numbers having “stabilised and even declined”, any relaxation of the rules while infection rates remain high could “quickly send the situation into reverse”.

A series of new measures aimed at driving down coronavirus (COVID-19) rates in Scotland have been announced.

Current restrictions, including the ‘stay-at-home’ requirement, are set to remain in place until at least the end of February and schools will continue to be closed to most children for the rest of this month.  

Nurseries and Primaries 1 to 3 are, however, now scheduled to return full-time on 22 February, subject to final confirmation two weeks from now that sufficient progress in tackling the virus has been achieved.  

In an update to Parliament the First Minister confirmed that a managed quarantine system for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland regardless of which country they have come from will be introduced as soon as practicably possible.

In addition to guarding against the increased importation of new cases, access to testing to find cases and interrupt transmission already taking place in Scotland will be stepped up:   

  • from the middle of February, routine testing of healthcare workers will be expanded to cover patient-facing primary care workers such as GPs, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists, as will testing for all patient-facing staff who work in hospices
  • from later this month, regular testing will be offered to support the return to schools and nurseries. Senior phase secondary school students, and all staff in primary, secondary and special schools, including school-based ELC staff, will be able to benefit from routine at-home testing two times a week
  • certain workplaces where the risk of transmission is greater and which provide essential or critical services, such as those within the food processing and distribution sectors and staff within emergency service control rooms, will also be supported to introduce routine workforce testing
  • targeted community testing will continue to be expanded – so that testing is available to people locally, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms
  • from mid-February tests will also be offered to all close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-enabling Test and Protect teams to identify their contacts and track, and break further, chains of transmission

In order to promote people’s ability to self-isolate when necessary, financial support will be significantly expanded to include all workers earning the Real Living Wage or less, as well as those in receipt of a council tax reduction because of low income. The £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant will also be extended to people who cannot work because someone they have caring responsibilities for is asked to self-isolate. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“As levels of the virus continue to fall in Scotland, it becomes ever more important that we stop the virus from being imported again. The threat of new variants is real and we must be ever-more vigilant.

“That is why we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from.

We want to work with the UK Government to avoid travellers sidestepping restrictions and arriving in other parts of the UK before travelling to Scotland, however the most effective approach to prevent this and to stop new variants being imported is for the UK Government to introduce a compulsory quarantine for anyone travelling into the UK from overseas.

“Since we still have work to do these measures will not be introduced this week and more detail will follow shortly.

“We believe that targeted community testing can play a particularly valuable role in communities where prevalence is starting to rise rapidly which is why we have expanded our testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission.

“Lockdown is starting to slow down the virus. But we also need to pick up the pace in our vaccination programme. We are doing that and will accelerate the programme further over the next fortnight – providing that we have sufficient supplies of the vaccine – as we work towards being able to vaccinate 400,000 people a week by the end of the month. We are making rapid progress in protecting those who are most at risk from COVID-19.”

On schooling, the First Minister added:

“I am acutely aware of the pressure school closures is putting on working parents and on family life more generally.

“Our room for manoeuvre, given the current state of the pandemic, is limited. But the government is determined to use every inch of headroom we have to get children back to school.

“Based on the advice of our expert advisers, if we all agree to abide with the lockdown restrictions for a bit longer so that our progress in suppressing the virus continues, we can begin a phased, albeit gradual, return to school from 22 February.”