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First Minister targets late April reopening of hospitality, retail, hairdressers and gyms but foreign travel still off cards

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a daily briefing.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a daily briefing.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has issued what is the long-awaited new roadmap out of lockdown targetting a late April easing of restrictions

But the plan is dependent on the vaccination programme reaching its targets and it will also see the return of the levels system.

Making the announcement in Holyrood, she was unable to offer all the details but another update would be released in mid-March.

Foreign travel will still be banned but measures will be relaxed in the coming weeks.

But the whole new framework is dependent on the Scottish Government reaching its vaccination targets by April – that includes all nine categories of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation priority list.

The process of easing the lockdown has already been launched with the phased returning of schools which started on Monday, and the restart of care home visits scheduled for early March.

As the framework progresses changes will be made every three weeks, though some could be “accelerated” according to Ms Sturgeon.

From March 15, the government is eyeing the next phase of returning pupils to school with primary school years four to seven and more secondary pupils able to get back to classes.

Additionally, outdoor non-contact sports for 12 to 17 year olds will be allowed while the number of people permitted to mix outdoors will go up to four people from two households.

Three weeks on from that – around April 5 – it is expected that the stay at home restriction will be lifted as will the ban on communal worship and the final phase of schools going back will be launched.

Within that same phase, indoor meetings could also be allowed for six people from two households and essential retailers list will be expanded slightly and click-and-collect will resume for non-essential retail.

From April 26, the whole country will finally move to the lockdown levels which could allow some areas depending on the prevalence of Covid to move straight from Level Four to Level Three.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We will also begin the reopening of retail that will start with an extension of the definition of essential retail and the removal of restrictions on click and collect and then three weeks after that, as I indicated earlier.

“So from April 26 assuming the data allows it we will move back to levels with hopefully all of Scotland that is currently in level four moving to level three albeit with some possible modification.

“And at that stage we will begin to reopen the economy and society in the more substantial way that we are all longing for.

“It is of course important for me to stress that all of this depends on us continuing to suppress the virus now and continuing to accept some trade-offs for a period – for example on international travel – but if we do so I am very optimistic that we can make good progress in returning more normality to our lives and to the economy."

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