/Nicola Sturgeon covid briefing RECAP: First Minister announces travel restrictions and outdoor mixing relaxations from Friday

Nicola Sturgeon covid briefing RECAP: First Minister announces travel restrictions and outdoor mixing relaxations from Friday

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Last updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2021, 14:00

  • Six adults from up to six households can meet outside from Friday
  • Scots will be able to travel anywhere in the country from Friday, but cross-boarder travel is still restricted until April 26
  • FM ‘extremely confident’ those living under the current level 4 restrictions will move to level 3 from April 26

Tourism industry responds to confirmation of coronavirus restrictions easing

Scottish Tourism Alliance responded to today’s news saying: ‘Our tourism sector is dependent on 70 per cent of the domestic market and today’s news will come as a massive boost for many businesses who rely so much on attracting visitors from all parts of the UK.’

Scottish Retail Consortium: ‘Reopening alone will not be a silver bullet: stores affected by lockdown have missed out on >£2 billion over 18wks.

‘It will take time for retailers to recover: some form of consumer stimulus, is vital after this bitter winter and slow spring.’

These are the 11 areas in Scotland with the most new coronavirus cases between April 3 and April 9

Travel group Explore Islay and Jura welcome the news that Scotland’s islands will be able to reopen to the rest of the country come April 26.

Scotland’s nightclubs set to reopen over the summer

Scotland’s nightclubs are in line to be able to reopen this summer.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was optimistic that clubs and other entertainment venues could return to normality over the next few months.

Theatres, concert halls and comedy clubs have previously been given a reopening date of mid-May, but on a restricted basis, with social distancing and restricted capacities.

Nightclub operators in Scotland have been calling on the government to bring the country into line with England, where social distancing restrictions are due to be lifted by the end of June if infection rates are kept down.

Read more here by Brian Ferguson.

Loganair welcoms today’s announcement by FM that tourists will again be allowed to travel to Scotland’s islands from April 26.

Chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: ‘We are heartened to see the Scottish Government has set out a path to the safe re-opening of travel and tourism to and from Scotland’s islands – a move which has been made possible by the tremendous progress on the Covid vaccination programme.

‘It is great news and can’t come a moment too soon for the parts of our islands’ economies which are hugely dependent on tourism.  

‘As the airline which has served island communities for over 50 years and which remains fully committed to what is our heartland, we are very much looking forward to supporting this re-opening.   

‘Tickets are now on sale to all of our island destinations, and we would emphasise that our customers can have absolute confidence through our Flex & Protect initiative that if the rules do change again, they can re-arrange their bookings without further cost.’

‘Slight increase’ of South African variant in Scotland says chief medical officer

25 cases of the South African variant have been detected in Scotland according to Dr Gregor Smith.

He said there are also six cases of the Brazilian variant in the country.

But he assured there has been no evidence of any community transmission and experts are continuing to ‘keep a very close eye on them.’

Speaking at today’s unscheduled coronavirus briefing he said: “We can sequence virtually all cases across Scotland, a huge step forward and stop the possibility of other variants rising across the country.

‘There has been a slight increase in the number of cases of the variants but it’s very small and contained.’

FM says international travel must wait

Here is her full statement on travelling overseas:

‘International travel remains a significant risk, particularly given the acceleration of spread that we’re seeing in many other parts of the world and given the possibility, indeed the reality of new variants and a risk of the virus and new variants being imported into Scotland.

‘We will not keep these restrictions in place for longer than necessary, but it is important right now to protect our progress here that we don’t make the mistakes that we perhaps as we came out of lockdown last time and opened up international travel too quickly, and then compromise and jeopardise the progress that we have made.

‘I know that’s not easy, and often when we talk about international travel we’ll talk about holidays, but I am very well aware that for many people international travel is about seeing families.’

Being vaccination does not mean breaking fast during Ramadan, FM says

FM said the vaccine does not mean breaking a fast for Muslims observing Ramadan, as the Islamic holiday begins tomorrow.

She urged those in the community to get vaccinated ‘as quickly as possible.’

Scotland’s current vaccination statistic update:

All of Scotland’s adult population are due to be offered the vaccine by end of July, says FM.

Vaccination are as follows:

  • 2,682,706 people in Scotland have received their first dose – 13,983 increase in first doses
  • 605,126 people have now had a second dose – 14,952 increase in second doses
  • Almost 60 per cent of Scotland’s adult population have now received their first dose of the covid vaccine
  • Almost all over-60s have now received a first dose of the vaccine
  • 96 per cent of 55-59-year-olds
  • 84 per cent of 50-54-year-olds

International travel still represents a ‘significant risk’ FM said.

FM said she hoped that travel restrictions outwith the UK could be agreed ‘on a four nations basis.’

She said: ‘I know this is difficult but it is important for me to stress it – international travel does remain a significant risk, particularly given the acceleration of spread that we’re seeing in may other parts of the world and given the possibility and indeed the reality of new variants and the risk of the virus and new variants of the virus being imported into Scotland.

‘It may well be the case that we do have to endure restrictions on international travel for a bit longer as the price we pay for much greater normality here in Scotland.’

FM challenged on health secretary Jeane Freeman’s admission last week that not taking the right precautions moving elderly patients from hospitals into care homes was a ‘mistake’

FM said a full public inquiry on the Scottish Government’s handling of pandemic will begin later this year.

Main points raised in FM’s coronavirus statement:

FM said a reduction in prevalence of the virus meant some acceleration of planned lockdown easing was possible to support mental health and wellbeing.

She told a coronavirus briefing there had been three deaths from coronavirus and 221 positive tests in the past 24 hours.

It followed an almost seven-month low in cases on Monday, with just 199 cases.

Ms Sturgeon said that from Friday people will be able to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise.

Rules on gatherings will also be relaxed, with six adults from up to six households able to meet up outside.

Scotland’s current lockdown easing plan will see cafes, restaurants and beer gardens open on April 26, along with shops, gyms, libraries and museums.

Hospitality will need to close their doors at 8pm indoors and 10pm outdoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.

From May 17, pubs are set to open indoors until 10:30pm and contact sports, cinemas, and some small scale events can take place.

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