Scotland will take a massive step forward in easing lockdown restrictions this month Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday.
One Friday the ‘stay local’ message will be ditched and we can all travel freely across the country to visit family and friends outdoors.
The First Minister revealed a host of key dates that will bring high streets and shopping malls back to life, along with hospitality and leisure.
It’s a far cry from January when Scotland was reporting around 2,000 new covid cases a day and full lockdown was imposed.
Yesterday 221 new infections were reported, that’s less than 1.6 per cent of all tests carried out in the last 24 hours.
Speaking at an unexpected lunchtime briefing, Ms Sturgeon explained: “The figures we are seeing now represent the lowest level since late September last year. In fact, it is a decline of more than 85 per cent since early January, and a fall of well over 40 per cent just in the last two weeks.
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“We’ve also seen the number of people in hospital and intensive care continue to reduce and thankfully the number of deaths has fallen sharply as well.”
Ms Sturgeon outlined the following changes we can we expect in the coming days, weeks and months.
Friday, April 16 – Scotland-wide travel ban lifted to allow outdoor socialising, recreation, or informal exercise. Outdoor gathering rules will be changed to allow maximum of six adults, from up to six households.
Monday, April 26 – Mainland Scotland will move to level three allowing retail, hospital, gyms, museums and libraries to reopen. Restrictions will be lifted on travel to and from England and Wales and will be permitted for wider purposes, including shopping and leisure. Hospital visiting resumes on a limited basis.
Monday, May 17 – Whole country expected to move at least to level two, allowing up to four people from two households to meet in their homes for the first time since Christmas day and up to six from three households to socialise inside in a public place. Cinemas, music venues and bingo halls will also open at this phase and there will be limited return of fans to stadia.
Early June – Lockdown reduced further to level one, with the numbers allowed to meet indoors increasing to six from three households and eight from three in an indoor public place. Outdoor meeting numbers also increase and pub and restaurant opening hours extend further.
Late June – Level zero expected to be introduced, with significantly more freedom, including a significant increase in the numbers allowed in stadia, numbers allowed to meet indoors and outdoors also rises further and limits are lifted on hospital visits, among other things.
Late summer – As number of people vaccinated increases further level of normality beyond zero expected to be possible.
Ms Sturgeon explained: “Later on in the summer – as the number of people who have been vaccinated increases further – we do hope that a level of normality well beyond level 0 will become possible.
“I know that many people want venues such as nightclubs to open again, and all of us want to be able to have lots of people around to our homes. Almost all of us, if not absolutely all of us, are desperate to be able to hug our loved ones.
“I remain optimistic, now more than I was even a few weeks ago, that some or hopefully all of that will be possible in the months ahead and over the summer period.”