Nicola Sturgeon confirms Scotland will move to phase three of easing lockdown

·3-min read
Sky News
Sky News

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will move to phase three of the easing of lockdown, in the "most substantial" relaxation of restrictions so far.

Speaking in Holyrood on Thursday, the First Minister urged for "cautious hope" in Scotland's suppression of the virus, and told MSPs that all six criteria set out by the World Health Organisation had been met, with the advent of air bridges between different nations announced on Wednesday.

In confirming the move to phase three, the First Minister said that exceptions would be made to the two-metre social distancing rule in some sectors.

Public transport and retail will see the rule relaxed from Friday, the First Minister said.

However, mitigations will have to be in place in these sectors, she added, as well as ensuring that discussions have taken place with trade unions before the rule is eased.

Ms Sturgeon also reminded the Scottish public that face coverings become mandatory from Friday, asking everyone to comply with the new rule.

From Friday, up to 15 people from five different households will be allowed to meet outdoors, she said, as long as social distancing is adhered to.

A maximum of eight people from three different households will also now be able to meet indoors.

However, the First Minister described the change as “one of the highest risk changes we have made so far”.

She added: “We know that the risk of transmitting the virus indoors is significantly higher than it is outdoors.

“So it is essential that we all take great care and strictly follow all of the public health advice.”

Couples who do not live together will now be able to meet without physically distancing, regardless of their living arrangements.

From Monday, children can enjoy contact sports and shopping centres can fully reopen.

The social distancing rule will be relaxeed to one metre for sectors including retail (PA)
The social distancing rule will be relaxeed to one metre for sectors including retail (PA)

Then, on July 15 hairdressers, indoor pubs and restaurants can re-start business, and museums, libraries, galleries and cinemas can also open their doors once again - provided tickets are bought in advance.

Tourism businesses such as hotels will also be able to open as expected on July 15.

The social distancing rule will be relaxed to one metre for certain sectors, including retail, from Friday.

Places of worship can reopen for communal prayer, congregational services and contemplation on July 15, but with restrictions on numbers, singing and chanting.

Restrictions at funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will also be eased on that same date, though wakes and receptions must continue to follow limits on household gatherings and hospitality.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh. (PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh. (PA)

Ms Sturgeon commented: “I am well aware that the restrictions we have had to place on attendance at funerals in these last few months have been particularly hard to bear and I am grateful to everyone who has complied, in what I know will have been heart-breaking circumstances.”

Finally, from July 22, beauticians and nail salons can reopen, whilst universities and colleges will be able to implement a “phased return to on-campus learning”.

Motorcycle instruction along with theory and hazard tests will also make a return.

Whilst phases one and two of Scotland's lockdown exit plan were secured at the first opportunity, Ms Sturgeon warned that the shift from phase three to four may take considerably longer.

She added: “Next week represents the most substantial easing of lockdown so far.

“And everything we learn about this, still new virus – about its infectiousness, its ability to kill, and its potential to do long-term damage to health – should warn us that we mess with it at our peril.

“And so perhaps more than ever, now is a time for great caution.”

This page is being updated.

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