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People in Scotland will be able to meet their friends and family outside from today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
Ms Sturgeon said people from two different households will be able to meet but must keep two metres apart. They must also remain outdoors, and in groups of no more than eight.
The lockdown easing was announced as Ms Sturgeon confirmed the country was ready to introduce the first phase of its four-phase “route map” towards reopening society while attempting to suppress the virus.
Scotland has been in lockdown since 23 March and did not make major changes to restrictions when they were announced for England earlier this month.
Ms Sturgeon said there had now been a “sustained and unmistakable” downward trend in the spread of the virus over a number of weeks, meaning changes could now be made.
But she warned that “we have limited room for manoeuvre” and “need to get the balance right”.
What restrictions are being eased?
- Ms Sturgeon said “most outdoor work that has been put on hold can resume” from Friday;
- This will see garden centres opening their doors again and site preparation beginning in the construction industry, with recycling centres re-opening from Monday;
- Also from Monday, teachers and other staff will be able to return to schools to prepare for re-opening – although most pupils will not return until 11 August, when they will begin a “blended model” of education which will see learning split between the classroom and home;
- Some outdoor leisure activities where physical distancing can be maintained will be allowed from Friday – including golf, tennis, bowls and fishing;
- People will be allowed to sit out and sunbathe in parks and open areas, and travel within their local area for exercise – although there is “strong advice” not to travel more than five miles for leisure; and
- Members of two different households will be allowed to meet up so long as they remain outdoors “in a park or private garden” and stay 2m (6ft) apart.
Responding to the First Minster’s announcement, ICC President Gavin McDonagh said:
“Entering phase one of the easing of restrictions will be welcome for many but the clock for businesses is ticking.
“The need for firmer timelines is an increasingly urgent matter for companies across all sectors who still face significant risk if they are not able to open urgently.
“Preparing for a safe return to the workplace is the utmost priority for businesses and should be too for the government.”
To watch the First Minister’s full announcement click here.
For further guidance on the new lockdown rules, click here.