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Scottish Government plans to lift all major coronavirus restrictions by August 9

·3-min read

The Scottish Government plans to move out of Covid-19 restrictions on August 9 if possible, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, she said changes to current restriction levels in Scotland will be postponed until July 19.

The First Minister said on that date it is hoped all of Scotland can move to the lowest level of restrictions, Level 0, three weeks later than initially planned on June 28.

She said increasing case numbers are behind the delay, after 2,167 cases were recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours – the highest daily figure since January 8.

However, she set out a series of vaccination milestones and said if these and other criteria are met the majority of restrictions could be lifted by August 9.

She said: “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.

“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.”

She said the Government would not immediately recommend a return to office working when all restrictions are lifted.

Instead, she said the Government would work with business as Scotland enters Level 0 – planned for July 19 – to devise a phased plan for the return of staff to offices.

Coronavirus – Sat Jan 23, 2021
Easing restrictions will depend on vaccination progress, the First Minister said (Jane Barlow/PA)

She said: “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.

“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.”

Guidance for weddings and funerals will be also changed, with some minor easing of the rules taking place on Monday, 28 June.

This will include wedding staff no longer counting towards the cap on attendees, and the fact those accompanying the couple down the aisle will no longer need to wear face coverings.

For funerals, people from more than one household will also now be allowed to carry a coffin or take a cord when lowering it.

Coronavirus – Fri Feb 5, 2021
CHanges for weddings were also announced (Brian Lawless/PA)

More substantial changes for weddings and funerals will take place on July 19, when the cap on attendees rises to 200 people.

The First Minister also spoke about the Government’s review of physical distancing, which was published on Tuesday.

This would remove the need for outdoor physical distancing on July 19, while moving the indoor requirement to one metre.

Depending on vaccination progress, it proposes removing all legal physical distancing requirements on August 9.

However, the First Minister said some “basic mitigations”, such as regular hand-washing, surface-cleaning and good ventilation, would continue beyond the August 9 date.

She said: “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.”

Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, asked the First Minister about other mitigations which would be required beyond August 9.

She said there may still be advice around physical distancing, even if it was not a legal requirement.

Ms Sturgeon said: “If you’re with somebody who’s not fully vaccinated, if you’re with somebody more vulnerable, if you’re in a place where the ventilation is not particularly good, it would make sense to continue to pay attention to a safe distance to people that are not in your close contact group.”

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