The current coronavirus restrictions in Scotland will remain in place until the 19th of July after a 40% increase in cases in the last week, Sturgeon has said
The Scottish Government’s original plan was for the entire country to move to Level 0 from the 28th of June, but Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the current rules will remain in place for three more weeks, until the 19th of July.
The renewed plan is for all areas throughout Scotland which have not already done so to move to Level 0 from the 19th of July, at which point the limits on household gatherings indoors will increase and the number allowed to attend weddings and funerals will increase to 200, Ms Sturgeon added.
It is also hoped that the nation-wide two metre social distancing requirements can be reduced to one metre on this date “assuming the data supports this”, the first minister has now said.
And the Scottish Government has planned to lift all major remaining legal coronavirus restrictions on 9 August if possible, she told MSPs.
This comes after Prime minister Boris Johnson has said it is “looking good” for the 19th of July to be the “terminus point” for England’s coronavirus restrictions, but did not rule out the prospect of further coronavirus lockdowns in the winter.
Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement at Holyrood on Tuesday as part of the latest review of Scotland’s route map out of its national lockdown.
“Assuming we are meeting the revised strategic aim, we hope that all parts of Scotland, not currently in that level, can move to Level 0 on 19 July,” she said.
“That means, for example, that the limits for household gatherings indoors will increase from that date, and up to 200 people will be able to attend weddings and funerals.
“We also hope – assuming the data supports this – that the general indoor physical distancing requirement can be reduced from 2 metres to 1 metre.
“And we hope, from that date, to lift the outdoor requirement to physically distance.
“In addition – in recognition of the reduced risk of outdoor transmission and therefore the desire to encourage people to stay outdoors as much as possible – we hope that limits on informal outdoor social gatherings, in private gardens for example, will also be removed at this stage.”
The country’s first minister has added that she believes the plans to lift the remaining restrictions on the 9th of August are both “possible and proportionate”.
“Our assessment – on balance and assuming we meet the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction – is that it would be possible and proportionate to lift the major remaining legal restrictions on 9 August,” she told Holyrood.
“We will consider and make a final assessment nearer the time of whether – as we hope – this could include the lifting of the legal requirement to physically distance indoors as well as outdoors.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “The move beyond Level 0 will be a major milestone and it will signal a return to almost complete normality in our day to day lives.
“Of course, while this is a longed-for moment, it is important to recognise that we still have a difficult path to navigate over the next few weeks to meet these milestones and, even assuming we do, the pandemic will not be completely over at this stage.
“As our Strategic Framework Update paper sets out, basic mitigations will still be required, as we move through summer and into the autumn, when we face the risk of a further resurgence in cases.”
This comes after plans for a COVID-19 booster jab programme in the autumn will be set out in the next few weeks, Matt Hancock has now said. The UK’s health secretary has said that government ministers were waiting for results from the trials of different combinations of the different vaccines.
Sturgeon also announced that the immediate return for all workers to offices when the coronavirus restrictions are eventually lifted will not be recommended by the nation’s Government, with a phased approach being taken instead.
“While recognising that a return to the workplace will be right for many, we will encourage continued support for home working where it is possible and appropriate,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“This won’t just assist with control of the virus, it will also help promote well-being more generally.
“However, I think many would agree that, as a general principle, home-working should be more possible post COVID than it was before.”