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Major easing of Scotland's lockdown to begin next week as friends and family are allowed to meet

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a road map out of the lockdown. Picture: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a road map out of the lockdown. Picture: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire

People in Scotland will finally begin to emerge from the country’s lockdown, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed in Holyrood.

Announcing the Scottish Government’s road map out of the lockdown, she warned that it would be under constant review and elements of each phase will not necessarily be relaxed at the same time.

Strict social distancing limitations remain in force but people can soon meet friends and family outside, outdoor businesses and children’s nurseries can reopen and school staff can return to work for essential childcare.

Non-contact outdoor activities in the local area – like golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming, angling – will be “unrestricted” but schools will not reopen to pupils yet nor will the construction sector fully restart work.

At the moment, the government reviews the lockdown measures every three weeks and the next due date for that assessment is next Thursday from which time phase one of the road map will be launched.

In phase one, every activity permitted will still have to be done while observing strict social distancing measures. From next week people it is planned to start to allow people to do or take part in the following activities:

  • One household can meet-up with another household outdoors, in small numbers, including in gardens but with physical distancing required.
  • Public gatherings – except for meetings of two households outdoors with physical distancing –are still not permitted.
  • People will be allowed to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but the advice is to stay local and travel by walking, wheel and cycle where possible.
  • International border health measures are set to be introduced.
  • Staff can begin to return to schools and for an increased number of children to access critical childcare provision including the re-opening of child minding services and fully outdoor nursery provision.
  • It is planned to make support available to pupils at key transition points, like those due to start P1 or S1 where possible.
  • Plans for outdoor workplaces to resume with physical distancing measures in place once the guidance has been agreed.
  • Ms Sturgeon is also planning for the construction sector to implement the first two phases in its restart plan.
  • The government is preparing for the safe reopening of the housing market.
  • Workplaces not yet allowed to open can start preparatory work on physical distancing and hygiene measures in phase one.
  • The gradual opening of drive-through food outlets, garden centres and plant nurseries with physical distancing.
  • Associated cafes in places like garden centres should not reopen except for a takeaway service.
  • The government is to allow unrestricted outdoors exercise adhering to distancing measures and non-contact outdoor activities in the local area.
  • Activities and sports such as golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming, angling will all be permitted.
  • There will be a gradual resumption of key support services in the community.
  • Access to respite or day care to support unpaid carers and for families with a disabled family member.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government has just published a route map to take Scotland through and out of the Covid-19 crisis –it provides us with information about how and when we might ease the lockdown restrictions while continuing to suppress the virus.

“It provides us with some indication of what our journey to a new normal might look like, the route map is for ease of access high level but it will be supplemented in the days ahead with detailed advice and information for the public as well as guidance covering key sectors of our economy, travel and transport.

“In publishing this route map we confront a fundamental issue – the lockdown restrictions have been absolutely necessary to mitigate the massive harm caused by Covid-19.

“However, the lockdown is creating harms of its own, loneliness and social isolation, deepening inequalities and serious damage to the economy. None of us want it to last any longer than it has to.

“So today we are setting out the phases in which we will aim to ease lockdown and reduce the impact on all of us, individuals, families, and communities and businesses.

“They are by necessity gradual and incremental and they must also be matched with rigorous ongoing monitoring of the virus. There is no completely risk-free way of leaving the lockdown but we must mitigate the risks as much as we can and we must not at any stage act rashly or recklessly.

“For all our progress this virus has not gone away, it continues to pose a significant threat to health and if we moved too quickly or without proper care it could run out of control again very quickly and the danger of a second wave later in the year is very real indeed.”

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