Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the “time is right” to begin relaxing lockdown measures in Scotland – with some sports to return and certain sectors to begin work again.
The First Minister told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that the Covid-19 “R” – or reproduction – number has remained below one for long enough to consider easing certain restrictions from next week.
Setting out a “road map” from lockdown, she announced “careful steps” will be taken to ease restrictions from next week with people able to spend more time outdoors and travel for recreation.
The SNP leader said the process will be “gradual and phased”.
However she said schools will not be reopened in the country until August.
Should there be no “regression” in Scotland’s measures to combat the spread of coronavirus within the next week, lockdown will begin to be eased from Thursday, May 28 as phase one begins.
Ms Sturgeon added: “In my judgement therefore the time is right to move towards a careful relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
“But as you will see in a moment we must do so in a timescale that aligns with our development of a ‘test, trace and isolate’ (strategy).
“Today’s road map explains the framework we are using for that relaxation and it sets out future steps people can expect to see”.
However she said eased restrictions under phase one will not be introduced immediately and could be subject to postponements.
Phase one will include the following:
- More outdoor activity permitted (able to sunbath, sit in parks and meet people from other households – adhering to social distancing)
- Non-contact sports including golf, tennis, bowls and fishing will restart
- People will be able to travel for recreation (preferably in local area)
- Waste and recycling services to resume
- Outdoor businesses including agriculture and forestry work to resume
- Construction work to begin steps one and two of six-point return plan
- No longer discouraging takeaways and drive-throughs from opening
- Garden centres to reopen
- NHS services which were postponed to resume
- Key community support services to resume
- Phased resumption of criminal justice system
Ms Sturgeon said updated advise will be issued on June 18 for those who are currently shielding in Scotland which aims to “increase your quality of life”.
She added government’s messaging during phase one will remain: “Stay Home – as much as possible”.
She also said that guidance on business reopening for “key sectors of the economy” will follow “in the days ahead”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Getting the economy moving again really matters to all of us. We will focus first on industries where people simply cannot work from home.”
She added: “We will continue to require, for the future, home-working where that is possible”.
Four-day work weeks remain under consideration.
Pubs, bars and restaurants
Ms Sturgeon stressed the following will remain off-limits during phase one:
- Pubs, cafes, restaurants and non-essential shops to remain closed
- Not permitted: visiting people inside their houses
Ms Sturgeon added that outdoor spaces in bars and restaurants would reopen “earlier than indoor spaces”.
Relaxing rules at places of worship will be considered as the country moves from phase one to two.
Ms Sturgeon also said that from August 11, all schools in Scotland will reopen.
The First Minister told MSPs that children will return to a “blended model of part-time in-school and part-time at-home learning”.
Teachers and other school staff will return during June to prepare classrooms for the new term.
During June and over the summer, an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare and the Scottish Government will provide “transition support for children going into primary 1 or moving from primary 7 to secondary school”.
She added: “To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, we are going to invest a further £30 million to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to study online. “
Universities and colleges will be subject to a phased return next term with a “combination of remote learning and some limited on-campus learning”.