Scotland to move 'beyond level zero' on Monday – but Covid is not beaten, warns Nicola Sturgeon
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our brand new digital subscription packages!
Most legal restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus will be lifted in Scotland from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
But the First Minister warned the virus still posed a threat as she outlined the relaxing of rules in a statement to parliament on Tuesday.
She stressed that the virus had not gone away and said that the wearing of face coverings would continue to be legally required in all settings as they are today, such as in shops and on public transport.
Hospitality venues will also be required to continue to collect customer details as the Test and Protect system will continue to operate.
Ms Sturgeon said that people with symptoms of Covid-19 and those who test positive would still have to self-isolate, but there would be a change of approach to close contacts.
Rather than imposing a strict 10-day isolation period, close contacts who are double vaccinated and had their second dose at least two weeks previously will, from Monday, be able to get a PCR test and, should it come back negative, their isolation period can end.
She said a similar system would be in place for under 17s that would reduce the instances of whole classes having to isolate. Young people aged five to 17 should take PCR tests and those under five would be 'encouraged' to do so.
Other measures in schools, such as 1m distancing between staff members and between staff and pupils, as well as over 12s wearing face coverings, would continue for up to six weeks and would remain under review.
Ms Sturgeon said this measure was important protection for them and for others.
The Scottish Government will make £10 million available to local authorities to improve ventilation in schools, which will be expected to use CO2 monitors to assess where changes are necessary. Assessments must be completed by the October holidays.
Large-scale events – of more than 5000 people outdoors or 2000 indoors – can go ahead from next week but will still need to apply for permission in order for mitigation measures to be assessed.
Workers will still have to wait before returning to the office, and the First Minister encouraged businesses to consider a hybrid model which she said might have other beneficial effects.
Ms Sturgeon said: "The last year has reminded all of us just how precious some of the simplest things in life really are, and many of us have vowed to not take those things for granted so much in future."
She said that she hoped the restrictions that were being removed on Monday would not need to be reimposed in the future, but that there could be no guarantees because the pandemic is not beaten.
She added that we all have a part to play in keeping the virus under control as restrictions ease, and that people should be "careful, cautious and sensible".
"This virus remains a threat and, as we enter winter, it may well pose a threat again."