Scotland moves to phase three of lockdown easing in 'most significant milestone yet'

9 July 2020, 13:56

File photo: The First Minister reminded the Scottish public that face coverings become mandatory from Friday
File photo: The First Minister reminded the Scottish public that face coverings become mandatory from Friday. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will move to phase three of the easing of lockdown.

The new steps will see the reopening of indoor pubs and restaurants, hotels and shopping centres – as face coverings become mandatory in shops.

The First Minister, who made the announcement at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, reminded the Scottish public that face coverings become mandatory from Friday, asking everyone to comply with the new rule.

She said: “This statement marks the most significant milestone yet in Scotland’s emergence from lockdown.

“All of it depends on us keeping the virus under control, eliminating it as far as we can now, ahead of the almost inevitable challenges we will face come winter, remains our objective.

“We will not hesitate to re-impose restrictions if we consider it necessary to halt the spread of the virus and save lives.”

People who are not shielding will be allowed to meet in groups of up to 15 people from five households while distancing outdoors or in groups of up to eight from three households while distancing indoors.

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

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

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."

Indoor hospitality businesses have also been given the go-ahead to open on July 15, the First Minister announced.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to ease the one-metre rule with mitigations in place.

However, Nicola Sturgeon added: "Just as with indoor household meetings, opening up indoor hospitality poses significantly increased risks of transmission.

"So it is essential that the guidance on health and safety is followed rigorously, by businesses, staff and customers.

"That includes guidance on physical distancing and taking customer contact details."

Shops within shopping centres will be able to reopen, meaning the majority of retail premises will be operational in phase three.

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Health services including optometry and dentistry practices will also be able to open again, with dental procedures which do not create a "fine mist" such as the operation of a drill able to go ahead.

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

Museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas, provided that tickets are bought in advance, will also be able to accommodate people again.

Hairdressers and barbers will be able to open on the expected date, with guidance for the sector due to be published this week.

The First Minister also announced some measures that were not expected to be taken in phase three that are being brought forward.

Places of worship will be able to open again for communal prayer and services, with restrictions placed on singing and chanting, two-metre social distancing and leaving contact details in the same way as hospitality.

Restrictions on attendance numbers at funerals, weddings and civil partnerships, the First Minister said, will also be eased, although these numbers will be "even more limited" than those allowed to return to places of worship more generally.

From July 22, the First Minister said, beauty salons will be able to open again, universities and colleges can begin to implement a phased return to learning and motorcycle instruction along with theory and hazard tests will be able to return.

Nicola Sturgeon described her statement to parliament as "the most significant milestone yet in Scotland's emergence from lockdown".

She said: "I hope that the measures we have announced or confirmed today are welcome.

"All of them, of course, depend on us keeping the virus under control.

"Eliminating it as far as possible now - ahead of the almost inevitable challenges we will face come winter - remains our objective.

"And we will not hesitate to reimpose restrictions if we consider it necessary to halt the spread of the virus and save lives."

Phase three could last longer than the three-week review date, the First Minister said.

Phases one and two were reached at the first opportunity, however, Ms Sturgeon said that the shift to phase four may take longer.

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