FIRST MINISTER ANNOUNCES TIMETABLE FOR EASING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

On Tuesday 16th March the First Minister outlined the Scottish Government’s timetable for easing the current COVID-19 restrictions and published the phased plan in ‘COVID-19: Scotland’s Strategic Framework.

Since the Strategic Framework was originally published on the 23rd February, significant progress has been made in suppressing the virus and while there is no room for complacency and every effort must continue to be made to reduce transmission within our communities; the Scottish Government have been able to extend their planning horizon with the following indicative dates.

From the 2nd April the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement will be lifted and replaced with a ‘Stay Local’ message (retaining the current, Local Authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period).

From the 5th April, assuming the data allows and the virus is continuing to be suppressed, a range of current restrictions in level 4 areas will be lifted. This includes:

  • the resumption of outdoor contact sport for 12-17 year olds
  • the return of college students within the top three priority groups identified by Colleges Scotland as most likely not to complete this academic year (estimated as 29% of learners)
  • the reopening of non-essential ‘click and collect’ retail

The list of retail permitted to open is also set to be extended on the 5th April and will grow to include:

  • garden centres (indoor and outdoor)
  • key cutting shops
  • mobility equipment shops
  • baby equipment shops
  • electrical repair shops
  • hairdressers and barbers (with shopfronts – not mobile services – and by appointment only)
  • homeware shops
  • vehicle showrooms (appointment only) and forecourts.

By the 12th or 19th April, depending on term times, all children and young people will be back to school full-time.

From the 26th April the Scottish Government expect a more significant reopening of the economy and society will begin, and this is likely to include:

  • the extension of outdoor socialising to permit up to 6 people from up to 3 households to gather
  • allowing 12-17 year olds to meet outdoors in groups of 6 from up to 6 households
  • travel within all of mainland Scotland permitted (subject to other restrictions that remain in place)
  • remaining shops can reopen and mobile close contact services can resume
  • gyms can reopen for individual exercise
  • tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering accommodation to be restricted in line with rules on indoor gathering)
  • work in people’s homes to resume
  • driving lessons to resume
  • weddings and funerals for up to 50 (including wakes and receptions with no alcohol permitted)
  • libraries, museums, galleries re-open
  • outdoor hospitality to open till 22:00 with alcohol permitted.
  • indoor hospitality permitted without alcohol and closing at 20:00
  • social mixing in indoor public places will be subject to current maximum of 4 people from up to 2 households

The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.

Three weeks on from the publication of the last update, and given the progress with the vaccination programme and what we have learned about its impact on reducing transmission of the virus; the First Minister was also in a position to add a new indicative date for further easing of restrictions.

With this in mind, from the 17th May the Scottish Government are hopeful they will be able to introduce the following easings:

  • re-introducing in-home socialising for up to 4 people from up to 2 households
  • further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 22:30 indoors with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited slots and until 22:00 outdoors with alcohol permitted
  • adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
  • cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open
  • small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints
  • colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
  • more in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
  • non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors

George Adam, Paisley’s MSP, said:

“While nothing here is set in stone and is obviously dependant on continued progress in supressing the virus and ensuring our NHS can run smoothly, I know the indicative dates set out by the First Minister today will be very encouraging and much welcomed by everyone here in Paisley.

“I know we are all desperately missing seeing our friends, families, and loved ones – and of course doing all the things we used to enjoy before COVID-19 necessitated the restrictions we have been living under for the best part of a year now – but it is important that we do not rush our return to some semblance of normality and find ourselves right back to where we were before Christmas.

“I hope the phased plan set out also gives business owners and those who have been on furlough or out of work some hope that the economy and the many sectors which have been heavily impacted by coronavirus are set to reopen and trade again very soon.

“There is no denying the past year has been incredibly challenging so I hope the First Minister’s update helps to lift Paisley’s spirits and give us all the push we need to keep following the guidance and restrictions to the letter as it is only when we all do our bit that long lasting progress is made – and most importantly, maintained.”