/Further dates for lockdown easing to be announced

Further dates for lockdown easing to be announced

nicola sturgeonImage copyright
Getty Images

Scotland’s first minister is to give an update on the timescale for easing the country’s lockdown restrictions.

The statement by Nicola Sturgeon is expected to include dates for when some further parts of the economy can open.

Ms Sturgeon said she was able to do this earlier than originally planned because of the country’s success in suppressing the virus.

Scotland formally moved to the second phase of its four-phase lockdown easing plan last week.

Ms Sturgeon will now provide more information about the timing of some of the specific steps.

Her update comes the day after the UK government announced major changes to the lockdown restrictions in England, including a relaxation of the 2m social distancing rules.

Ms Sturgeon has said Scotland will not follow in relaxing the 2m rule until at least next week, when her scientific advisers are due to report back on the potential impact of doing so.

The move to the second phase of the lockdown easing plan saw the first minister announce that most non-essential shops will be able to reopen from 29 June.

The wider tourism industry in Scotland – which has been hit particularly hard by the lockdown – has been told to prepare to reopen on 15 July.

And the country’s school pupils were told on Tuesday to prepare to return to school full-time in August rather than part-time, as had originally been the plan.

But there have not yet been any dates given for businesses such as pubs, restaurants or hairdressers – which are all due to open in England on 4 July, as will cinemas, hotels, museums, libraries and many visitor attractions.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Scotland will not decide whether to follow England in relaxing the 2m rules until at least next week

The Scottish government has generally been taking a more cautious approach to opening up the economy again than the UK government has in England, where shops were able to reopen earlier this month.

Ms Sturgeon has been concerned that moving too quickly will risk a resurgence of the virus, which has already been linked to the deaths of more than 4,000 people in Scotland.

The Scottish Conservatives have accused her of following a “go-slow” approach that risks leaving Scotland behind both economically and socially.

However, the first minister indicated on Tuesday that she could now accelerate her plans because of the progress that had been made, with daily hospital admissions related to coronavirus now down to single figures and the number of people in intensive care only a tenth of what they were at the height of the outbreak.

Ms Sturgeon also said Scotland was “not far away” from eliminating community transmission of coronavirus if cases continue to decline over the next few months.

What else has been introduced in Phase Two?

The changes announced by Ms Sturgeon last week mean anyone who lives on their own – or only with children – can now form an “extended group” with one other household.

People can also meet outdoors with two other households at the same time rather than just one, and people who have previously been told to shield are now able to meet other people outside for the first time.

Face coverings have been made compulsory for everyone using public transport.

And dentists been allowed to reopen for urgent care, while professional sport can resume behind closed doors and places of worship can open for individual prayer.

Many indoor workplaces such as factories, laboratories and warehouses will also start to reopen from 29 June, subject to strict physical distancing and hygiene rules.

Outdoor outdoor markets, playgrounds and sports facilities will reopen on the same day, along with some visitor attractions such as zoos – although visitors should still not travel more than five miles from their homes and tickets should be bought in advance.

Original Source