Scotland lockdown: Nicola Sturgeon says ‘stay-at-home’ order to be lifted on 2 April

‘Brighter days are indeed ahead of us,’ says Scottish first minister

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 16 March 2021 16:48
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Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland's 'stay at home' order to be lifted on 2 April

Nicola Sturgeon has announced Scotland’s “stay-at-home” order will be lifted and replaced with a “stay local” rule on 2 April, as she unveiled the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Lasting no longer than three weeks, the Scottish first minister said under the new guidance people will be told not to travel outside their “authority area” unless it is for an essential purpose.

Some non-essential shops, including click-and-collect retail services, garden centres and homeware stores, alongside hairdressers, will be able to reopen on 5 April before a wider reopening of the sector from 26 April.

The hospitality industry, including bars and restaurants, will also be able to welcome back customers from the end of April in groups of six outside – subject to a 10pm curfew.

"Alcohol will be permitted, and there will be no requirement for food to be served,” she said in an update to the Scottish parliament.

Further easing of outdoor social restrictions will also happen on 26 April, with six people from three households being able to meet while attendance at funerals and weddings will increase to a maximum of 50 people.

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Last week, Ms Sturgeon announced places of worship would reopen for communal gatherings on 26 March – in time for Easter and other religious festivals including Passover and Ramadan.

However, she warned that given the risk of transmitting the disease “is greatest inside our homes” it was not yet possible to outline whether indoor gatherings will be eased in April. “We intend to keep this under ongoing review,” she said.

The first minister said she expected to lift restrictions on travel within mainland Scotland “entirely” from 26 April and hoped similar measures on travel to other parts of the UK would also be eased.

Similar to the UK government, she insisted international travel would not be “achievable” before 17 May, warning: “Our view is that it may well not be possible for a further period after that, given the circumstances and situation with the virus in Europe and many other parts of the world.”

In a statement to the Scottish parliament, Ms Sturgeon said the roadmap would be dependent on progress, including the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, but insisted: “Brighter days are indeed ahead of us.”

In the longer term, Ms Sturgeon said the government was planning for Scotland to move into level 1 restrictions in early June, before shifting to level 0 – effectively removing Covid measures – by the end of the month.

"For me to set a precise date for all of that right now would involve plucking it out of thin air – and I'd be doing it to make my life easier, not yours," she said.

"I am not going to do that. But I do believe that over the coming weeks – as more and more adults are vaccinated – it will be possible to set a firmer date by which many of these normal things will be possible.

"I am optimistic that this date will be over the summer. I know I will not be the only one now looking forward, with a real sense of hope, to hugging my family this summer."

The first minister also used her update to warn against complacency, saying that while she hopes to be able to lift the stay at home order and open retail and hospitality at different points next month, work was still required to ensure cases did not rise.

She said: “This is certainly the most hopeful I have felt about the situation for a long time. However, as you would expect, I do need to add a note of caution.

“I know this is the bit none of us want to hear, but the route back to normality does depend on continued suppression. We must continue to suppress [the virus] to the lowest level possible.”

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