Beer gardens and shopping return as Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions ease

PA Scotland reporters, PA Scotland
·5-min read

Cafes, beer gardens, non-essential shops and museums have started reopening in Scotland as lockdown easing continues.

Early-morning queues formed outside shops in Edinburgh’s Princes Street with shoppers keen to snap up a bargain in person.

The country moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s five tiers of restrictions on April 26.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week that the continued suppression of coronavirus and the success of the vaccine rollout meant some restrictions could be lifted on Monday.

It means gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums can reopen along with cafes, restaurants and beer gardens.

Hospitality will need to close at 8pm indoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.

People will be able to meet others for a meal or drink, with up to six people from two households allowed to socialise indoors in a public place such as a cafe or restaurant.

But some in the trade have said the industry needs more clarity in the guidance issued by the Scottish Government as the sector reopens.

Colin Clydesdale, co-owner of the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow, said he needs “longitudinal tables” to work out how many people will be allowed to sit in the bar’s outdoor spaces at any one time.

He told the PA news agency he agreed with the need for a lockdown but said: “Some of (the guidance) has been absolutely on the money and brilliant and necessary, and I get it all.

“But, from our point of view, it’s been a long, hard slog and a lot of what we’re facing at the moment is very, very muddled.

“We don’t entirely know what we’re meant to be complying with – we’re trying our very best – so how the customers know I’m not sure.

“You actually need some sort of longitudinal table to actually work out how many customers you can have in or out and what denomination of – it’s not easy but we’ll get there.”

Politicians on the campaign trail for the next month’s Holyrood election – – including Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie – enjoyed a pint to mark the reopening of beer gardens while SNP leader Ms Sturgeon visited shops in North Berwick.

Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021
Scottish Conservative party leader Douglas Ross (centre) enjoys a pint of beer as some hospitality restrictions in Scotland lift (Tom Eden/PA)

Other changes include the resumption of driving lessons and tests while close-contact services, such as beauty parlours, can also return.

Funerals and weddings – including post-funeral events and receptions – will be allowed to take place with up to 50 people and alcohol permitted.

Travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted and tourist accommodation can welcome back visitors.

Non-essential work inside people’s homes – such as painting, decorating or repairing – can take place.

Adults on the shielding list can return to their workplace if they cannot work from home, while children who have been shielding can go back to school.

VisitScotland is calling on people to support the recovery of the tourism sector by enjoying short breaks, days out and staycations in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon in bookshop
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon visited a bookshop (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “It is clear that tourism has been one of the greatest economic casualties of the pandemic.

“We’ve had a year of very little investment, job losses and business closures – it will take time and significant investment to get us back to a thriving industry.

“With the right support, tourism and events can lead the economic recovery and boost inward investment where it’s needed most, but to do that the industry needs the support of people living in Scotland in the first instance.

“Many businesses are reopening after months of no trade, and, with staycations set to be popular again this year, there is a real opportunity for us all to rally round and show our support for local tourism.”

Woman sitting at cafe
Cafes are reopening as restrictions ease (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) urged people to support the retail sector.

Director David Lonsdale said: “We encourage Scots to get out and visit their favourite shops over the coming weeks, knowing every purchase they make and every item they buy is a local job supported and a high street helped.

“Unlocking consumer spending will be central to Scotland’s economic recovery and to bouncing back quickly.”

One shopper at Primark in Edinburgh told the PA news agency that she was delighted to be able to head inside the store with her family for a browse.

She said: “It’s great fun. I got loads – jammies, a jacket, socks, a pair of jeans, stuff for the kids – they were running riot, they thought it was great.”

It comes as Scotland recorded no new coronavirus deaths and 142 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to Monday’s figures.

The death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,652, but the Scottish Government stressed registry offices are generally closed at the weekend.

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The daily test positivity rate is 1.7%, up from 1.3% on Sunday, and a total of 225,346 people have now tested positive in Scotland.

The latest Scottish Government figures show there were 93 people in hospital on Sunday confirmed to have the virus and 12 patients in intensive care.

So far 2,773,770 people in Scotland have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 1,068,704 have received their second dose.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith announced on Twitter that he had received his first dose of coronavirus vaccine.

Accompanied by a photo of him receiving the vaccine and revealing an extensive upper-arm tattoo, Dr Smith wrote: “Got my first dose OxAZ vaccine today from Nicole (DN) and Jack (Dentist). Lovely slick process @NHSLanarkshire and great info from vaccinators – I’m so very grateful to all the team involved in planning and delivery of this – thank you! Amazing job.”