Scotland’s “stay at home” rule is due to end in April, with restrictions on retail, hospitality and travel expected to be eased throughout the spring.
Nicola Sturgeon has given a further update on the route-map away from the strict measures currently in place across the country to tackle coronavirus.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister announced a more detailed “indicative” timeline for the lifting of the current restrictions.
From early April, the rules will begin to ease slightly.
If the success of the vaccine rollout programme in tackling infections and deaths continues into mid-April, the lockdown will be reduced even more significantly.
Here are the key dates:
From April 2
- The government expects to lift the current “stay at home”rule. It will initially be replaced with “stay local” guidance for three weeks – which will ask people not to travel outwith their home area except for essential purposes.
From April 5
- Contact sports for 12-17 year olds can resume
- Students should be able to return to on-campus learning
- There will be a phased reopening of non-essential retail, click and collect services, homeware stores, car show rooms/forecourts, and garden centres
- Hairdressers and barbers should be allowed to reopen
From April 26 (dependent on all nine “priority groups” being offered first-dose of vaccine by this date)
- All parts of Scotland currently in level four to move down to modified level three – and the islands potentially to level two
- Travel restrictions on journeys within mainland Scotland expected to be “lifted entirely” – however Ms Sturgeon said there may be a need to further protect island communities at this stage
- Restrictions on journeys between Scotland and other parts of the UK – and the wider common travel area – should be lifted. Ms Sturgeon added this would happen “if not on April 26 then as soon as possible thereafter, however we need to keep this under review”. The government’s position will be updated during April.
- All remaining retail premises to reopen
- Tourist accommodation, libraries, museums and galleries to reopen
- Indoor gyms to reopen for individual exercise
- Work can resume in homes
- Driving lessons return
- Attendances at weddings, funerals and receptions to rise to 50 people
- Outdoor socialising should be eased further – with six people from up to three households able to meet outdoors. 12-17 year olds should be able to meet outdoors with up to six people from six households.
- Ms Sturgeon could not clarify if people would be able to visit others indoors from this date. It remains “under on-going review”.
- Hospitality sector to begin to reopen with cafes, restaurants and bars able to serve people outdoors. Alcohol permitted outside without a food requirement. There could also be limited indoor hospitality for food and non-alcoholic drinks.
- Shielding people should be able to return to work, and shielding pupils and students will be able to attend school, nursery, college or university.
From May 17
- The government hopes that all level three areas will move to level two
- More normality will return to indoor hospitality with booze being served indoors and opening hours possibly changing
- Adult outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercise to resume
- Cinemas, arcades and bingo halls to reopen
- Outdoor and indoor events to restart on smaller scale
- More “blended form” of learning can begin at colleges and universities
- Face-to-face support services resume
- Non-professional performance arts to return
- Restrictions on outdoor social gatherings to ease further, along with meetings inside homes in small groups
- Government hopes Scotland can move to level one from early June, allowing for further easing
- All of Scotland could be at level zero by end of June
Sturgeon: Hope of normality by summer
Speaking at Tuesday’s Covid-19 update in Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said: “The steps I have outlined today give a significant degree of clarity for the period between now and the middle of May.
“The unpredictable nature of this virus means – and I hope that people understand this – that it is difficult to give quite as much clarity beyond that point.
“However our hope and ambition is that from the early part of June all of Scotland will move to level one, which will allow for a further easing of restrictions.
“And then by the end of June we hope that all of Scotland will move to at least level zero.
“Now level one, and even more so level zero, will be a massive improvement on where we are right now. But those levels still involve some restrictions.
“And so we hope that we will be able to get beyond even that. We will be assessing the situation as people would expect on an ongoing basis with a view to restoring as much normality as possible.”
She added: “It is our fervent hope – and also our tentatively increasing expectation – that vaccination, continued and effective use of Test and Protect, and probably a continued compliance with some precautions like good hand hygiene for example, will allow us to keep Covid under much greater control, and that this will then allow us to enjoy much of the things that we took for granted before the pandemic. For example: gatherings where we can hug our loved ones, sporting events, gigs and night clubs.
“Now for me to set-out a precise date for all of that right now would involve plucking it out of thin air, and I’d probably be doing it to make my life easier – not yours. So I am not going to do that.
“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 optimistic that this date will be over the summer, and I know I will not be the only one now looking forward with a real sense of hope to hugging my family over the course of this summer.”
Scotland entered a second lockdown on January 4 in response to the rapid spread of a new strain of coronavirus.
Case number and Covid-19 deaths in Scotland surged to their highest-ever levels in January.
The measures put in place in early 2021 were the strictest since the first lockdown in spring 2020.
Schools were closed to all but a handful of pupils until recent weeks, with strict travel measures and a legally enforceable “stay at home” rule put in place.