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Scotland to lift most coronavirus restrictions next Monday, Sturgeon announces

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Most coronavirus restrictions in Scotland are to be lifted on 9 August, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has told the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon announced Scotland’s “freedom day” in a video statement to the Holyrood assembly, which has been virtually recalled from its summer break.

From Monday, legal requirements for social distancing and limits on the size of social gatherings and access to venues will be removed, said the first minister.

But, unlike in England, masks will still be required in all indoor settings where they are currently used, and are likely to be legally mandated “for some time to come”.

Face masks will have to be worn during lessons by secondary pupils when schools return, and children and staff will be required to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests.

The Scottish government will also continue to advise people to work from home where possible.

Ms Sturgeon said the requirement for 10 days of self-isolation after close contact with a Covid-positive person would be dropped in Scotland, so long as the contact tests negative.

Young people under the age of 17 will also be able to end self-isolation if they test negative, while those under five years old will be “encouraged” but not required to take a test. Blanket self-isolation for whole school classes will no longer be required.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government continues to consider the use of vaccine passports for access to some events domestically, using the same app that is being developed for those needing to prove vaccine status when travelling abroad.

While the removal of all parts of Scotland from the “level zero” restrictions currently in effect will “restore a substantial degree of normality”, the first minister warned that it was important to be clear that “it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck”.

“Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is premature,” said Ms Sturgeon.

“The harm the virus can do, including through the impact of long Covid, should not be underestimated. And its ability to mutate may yet pose us real challenges.”

Ms Sturgeon said that the move out of lockdown was possible only because of the vaccination campaign and the “prolonged sacrifices” of members of the public.

She said: “The last year has reminded all of us just how precious some of the simplest things in life really are, and many of us, I suspect, will resolve not to take them quite so much for granted in future.

“The best way of doing that in the short term, is to continue to be careful, cautious and sensible, even as legal restrictions are lifted.

“We all hope – I know I certainly do – that the restrictions we lift next Monday will never again have to be reimposed, but no one can guarantee that.

“Enjoy being able to do more and meet up more - we’ve all waited a long time for that,” she said.

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