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Nicola Sturgeon to announce if Covid restrictions will be lifted in Scotland

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Andy Buchanan/PA) (PA Wire)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Andy Buchanan/PA) (PA Wire)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to announce whether Scotland will lift nearly all of its Covid-19 restrictions including the re-opening of nightclubs and sports stadiums at full capacity.

Her statement, on Tuesday afternoon, is expected to reveal whether most lockdown measures, in place for 18 months of the pandemic, are to be lifted on Monday August 9 as hoped.

However, Ms Sturgeon has said some measures like the use of face coverings will remain in place “for some time”.

She said people should not take progress for granted due to the faster-spreading Delta variant of the virus, saying “appropriate caution” must be taken.

The Scottish First Minister set the date in June, even before the move to Level 0 on July 19 which increased the numbers of people who could gather and extended the opening hours of hospitality.

Other businesses such as soft play were finally allowed to reopen – however nightclubs are among those still closed ahead of Tuesday’s statement in a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament.

Sports stadia and concert venues may go back to being able to welcome full capacity crowds again for the first time in nearly 18 months if changes are approved.

Under the present rules, up to eight adults from four households can meet indoors at home, and up to 10 can meet in a pub or a restaurant - without needing to book ahead.

Scots are still being asked to work from home where possible, and hospitality premises must shut at midnight.

In the week leading up to July 30 the rolling seven-day average of new infections was at 1,153 a dramatic fall from 3,429 on the first day of that month.

But Scotland is still in the grip of the third wave largely caused by the Delta variant with cases and hospital admissions still significantly higher than they were in March, April and May.

It was previously suggested all the major Covid-19 restrictions would be relaxed on Monday as long as the over-40 age group is fully vaccinated, which the Scottish Government described as a “gateway condition”.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross (PA)
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross (PA)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said social distancing guidance should change as planned but called for amendments to the self-isolation rules of those who are double vaccinated.

He said: “The success of Scotland and the UK’s vaccine scheme overall means we can now look to move forward, cautiously but confidently, and remove almost all Covid restrictions.

“Scotland’s economic recovery hinges on the SNP Government moving beyond Covid restrictions – we must seize this opportunity to start rebuilding from the damage of Covid now and not delay any longer.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (PA)
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (PA)

Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the country was at a “crucial moment” in its exit from lockdown and the efforts to “jump start Scotland’s recovery”.

He called for “urgent” work to support cancer diagnostic services, an overhaul of the “struggling” contact tracing system and changes to rules around self-isolation.

He said: “We have to learn to live with the virus, but to do so in such a way that the people of Scotland, our NHS and our economy are supported and protected.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Greens called for clarity on measures to protect students and staff when the new university term begins, with MSP Gillian Mackay saying ministers “must ensure there is no repeat of last year’s shambolic return to campus”.

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