Sturgeon: Most Covid restrictions to be removed in Scotland by the summer

PA Scotland Reporters
·3-min read

Most coronavirus restrictions are to be removed in Scotland by the summer, with the stay-at-home order scrapped from April 2 and freedom to travel restored by April 26, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister announced plans to ease Scotland out of lockdown.

She told MSPs that hairdressers and some additional non-essential shops such as garden centres and homeware stores can open from April 5.

A “stay local” order will be in place until April 26, when current rules banning people from leaving their council areas will be removed, with plans to allow journeys to other parts of the UK on the same date.

Non-essential shops, libraries, museums, galleries and gyms will also reopen from April 26, and six people from up to three households will be able to meet outdoors.

Beer gardens will also be able to open from that date, the First Minister said.

“Cafés, restaurants and bars will be able to serve people outdoors, in groups of up to six from three households, until 10pm,” she said.

“Alcohol will be permitted, and there will be no requirement for food to be served.”

Hospitality will be able to open indoors on the same day until 8pm, but only for food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Pubs will have to wait until May 17 to reopen indoors.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We would hope, from that date, to allow indoor hospitality to return to greater normality, with alcohol able to be served indoors and within more normal opening hours, though possibly with some continued restrictions – a requirement for people to book in two hour slots, for example.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

May 17 will also see people able to meet each other indoors again, initially in groups of up to four people from no more than two households.

Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls will also return as will contact outdoor adults sports.

Scotland is currently in Level 4 of five tiers of coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Sturgeon said the entire country will move to Level 3 from April 26 and “all level 3 areas – or as many as possible” will move to level 2 from May 17.

She said her hope is that all of Scotland will move to Level 1 of coronavirus restrictions by early June and to Level 0 by the end of that month.

The First Minister said continued suppression of the virus “will allow us to enjoy many of the things that we took for granted before the pandemic – for example, normal family gatherings where we can hug our loved ones, sporting events, gigs and nightclubs”.

She said she hoped that vaccination and Test and Protect would lead Scotland closer to normality, but added she could not say when restrictions would be fully lifted.

“For me to set a precise date for all of that right now would involve plucking it out of thin air – and I’d be doing it to make my life easier, not yours,” she said.

SCOTLAND Coronavirus
Weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in Scotland (PA Graphics/PA)

“I am not going to do that. But I do believe that over the coming weeks, as more and more adults are vaccinated, it will be possible to set a firmer date by which many of these normal things will be possible.

“I am optimistic that this date will be over the summer.

“I know I will not be the only one now looking forward, with a real sense of hope, to hugging my family this summer.”

The First Minister also warned against complacency.

“This is certainly the most hopeful I have felt about the situation for a long time,” she said.

“However, as you would expect, I do need to add a note of caution.

“I know this is the bit none of us want to hear, but the route back to normality does depend on continued suppression.”

She added: “We must continue to suppress it to the lowest level possible.”