Scotland will return to a tiered system from the last week in April, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she confirmed her ‘framework’ would be staggered by three weeks – two weeks faster than in England.
The First Minister told MSPs the five-level system should see the entire country enter Level 4 and drop down to Level 3, which would see sectors such as non-essential retail reopen from Apr 26. The stay at home restriction will be lifted from Apr 5.
She said: “It is therefore from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers.
“And, of course, the more of us who are vaccinated and the more we all stick by the rules now, the faster that safe pace is likely to be – if we all stay in this together, our progress will be greater.”.
Care home restrictions will be eased from early March, and from Mar 15, the next phase of school returns – including primary and some secondary students – will begin. Outdoor mixing will also increase to four people from two households.
Communal worship can also resume, Ms Sturgeon said, although “it may be a few days earlier” if required for festivals such as Passover and Easter.
Ms Sturgeon said she hopes to be able to give more detail in mid-March on the easing of restrictions in Scotland, but she will “seek to accelerate” changes where possible. She added that she was “optimistic” about restoring “more normality” to people’s lives in the coming months.
It comes as students in Primary One to Primary Three returned to school full time on Feb 22, as well as all children under school age in early learning and childcare. A “limited number” of secondary school students can also return on a part-time basis to allow in-school practical work, necessary for the completion of national qualifications from the same date.
Additionally, there is a “limited increase in provision for vulnerable children.”
The First Minister also confirmed on Mar 2 that the second phase of school returns will go ahead as planned from Mar 15, with all pupils given at least some in-school teaching in that time, before full-time schooling returns after the Easter holidays.
Mainland Scotland was placed into lockdown on Jan 4 to tackle the rising spread of the new coronavirus strain. The measures include a legally-enforceable stay-at-home order.
In addition, takeaway food and hot drinks can only be served outside of a building and a ban has been placed on alcohol consumption in public in Level 4 areas, including those purchased at takeaway services.
New guidance for those shielding has also been introduced. If you are shielding but cannot work from home, do not go to work – the Chief Medical Officer will write to all that this applies to which will act as a doctors note.
How many vaccinations have taken place in Scotland?
As of Mar 4, 1,688,608 people have had their first vaccine in Scotland and 100,058 have received their second dose after the rollout began on Jan 16.
Nicola Sturgeon announced on Feb 15, that the Scottish Government has met its target of offering the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups.
Ms Sturgeon said there has been a “temporary dip” in vaccinations being given out in Scotland, as a result of an anticipated drop in supply and the increase in second doses being deployed.
However, the First Minister stressed the programme was continuing according to schedule, as she confirmed that all adults in Scotland should be offered a first dose of the Covid vaccine by the end of July.