Travel restrictions in Scotland ease as country revealed to be harshest in UK for lockdown

Georgina Hayes
·3-min read
Increased traffic on the Queensferry Crossing, which links Edinburgh and Fife, as the Scottish Government removed travel restrictions within Scotland - Getty Images Europe
Increased traffic on the Queensferry Crossing, which links Edinburgh and Fife, as the Scottish Government removed travel restrictions within Scotland - Getty Images Europe

New rules allowing Scots to travel outside council areas and meet more people outdoors have come into force, as it emerged that Scotland endured one of the most stringent lockdowns of anywhere in the world.

From Friday, Scots can travel anywhere in mainland Scotland and meet up to six others from six households outside.

Announcing the latest easing of restrictions at an unscheduled briefing on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said the continued decline in virus cases meant the restrictions could be eased earlier than planned.

But on Thursday, the First Minister said that while it was “positive” the easing of restrictions had been brought forward, Scots should not allow their guard to drop.

"Don't go to crowded places, if you're headed to a beach or a park and it's crowded please come away again because crowded places are not safe places to be.”

She added: "As long as we all stick to the advice that's still in place, this easing of restrictions tomorrow should be the first of many and I think, not least because of the vaccine programme, we can all afford to be just that bit more optimistic right now."

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Among those heading further afield on Friday was Andrew McVie, 27, from Glasgow, who told the PA news agency he was "super excited" to be visiting Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae for a cycling day trip for the first time in more than two years.

The clerical assistant said he has enjoyed returning to the scenic island - a short ferry ride from Largs on the North Ayrshire coast - after visiting as a child with his mother.

He said: "I've missed it so much not being able to go because of the travel restrictions, but I'll still be taking precautions.

Mr McVie added that he plans to visit Edinburgh with friends on Saturday for the first time in more than a year.

It comes as research found that Scots have endured more days of living in the most stringent restrictions on average than those in other UK nations.

Loch Lomond in May last year after the easing of lockdown - Getty Images Europe
Loch Lomond in May last year after the easing of lockdown - Getty Images Europe

Analysis by Oxford University's Blavatnik school of government found the UK was "globally unique" in spending the longest period of lockdown at a very high level of stringency - with Scotland the toughest of the lot.

SNP ministers have come under particular fire in recent weeks for keeping hospitality businesses closed while their English counterparts have been allowed to reopen.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said: "Public health must always be the priority but the UK's world leading vaccine effort means we can now go forward with optimism.

"Nicola Sturgeon has already heeded our calls to accelerate the easing of some restrictions but more can be done.”

Mr Cameron said that people “deserve hope” and warned that Scotland “cannot simply stagnate in shutdown for a moment longer than necessary”.