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First phase of exit from lockdown to start in Scotland next week but situation will be under constant review

By Scott Maclennan

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Lockdown will begin to be relaxed in Scotland from late next week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

However, announcing the Scottish Government’s road map out of the lockdown, she warned that it would be under constant review and that different elements of each phase will not necessarily all be relaxed at the same time.

Under the first phase likely to take effect on or soon after next Thursday (May 28) strict social distancing requirements will remain in place but people will be able to meet up with members of one other household outdoors, outdoor businesses such as garden centres will be able to reopen and school staff can return to work for essential childcare.

Non-contact outdoor activities such as golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming and angling will also be permitted.

Schools will not reopen to pupils until after the summer break, however, and the construction sector will not be able to fully restart work either.

In summary, changes under phase one of the lockdown easing include:

  • One household can meet up with another household outdoors, in small numbers, including in gardens but with physical distancing required
  • People will be allowed to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but the advice is to stay local and travel by walking, wheel and cycle where possible
  • International border health measures are set to be introduced
  • Staff can begin to return to schools and an increased number of children will be able to access critical childcare provision. Child minding services will be allowed to reopen and fully outdoor nursery provision will also be allowed.
  • Outdoor workplaces can resume activities with physical distancing measures in place once guidance has been agreed
  • The construction sector will be able to start implementing early phases of an agreed restart plan
  • The gradual opening of drive-through food outlets, garden centres and plant nurseries with physical distancing. Associated cafes in places like garden centres should NOT reopen except for a take away service
  • Activities and sports such as golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming and angling will all be permitted
  • There will be a gradual resumption of key support services in the community including access to respite or day care to support unpaid carers or families with a disabled family member

Public gatherings – except for meetings of two households outdoors with physical distancing –will still not be permitted.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government has just published a route map to take Scotland through and out of the Covid-19 crisis –it provides us with information about how and when we might ease the lockdown restrictions while continuing to suppress the virus.

“It provides us with some indication of what our journey to a new normal might look like.

"The route map is, for ease of access, high level, but it will be supplemented in the days ahead with detailed advice and information for the public as well as guidance covering key sectors of our economy, travel and transport.

“In publishing this route map we confront a fundamental issue – the lockdown restrictions have been absolutely necessary to mitigate the massive harm caused by Covid-19.

“However, the lockdown is creating harms of its own – loneliness and social isolation, deepening inequalities and serious damage to the economy.

"None of us want it to last any longer than it has to.

“So today we are setting out the phases in which we will aim to ease lockdown and reduce the impact on all of us, individuals, families, and communities and businesses.

“They are by necessity gradual and incremental – and they must also be matched with rigorous ongoing monitoring of the virus. There is no completely risk-free way of leaving the lockdown, but we must mitigate the risks as much as we can and we must not at any stage act rashly or recklessly.

“For all our progress this virus has not gone away. It continues to pose a significant threat to health and if we move too quickly or without proper care it could run out of control again very quickly and the danger of a second wave later in the year is very real indeed.”

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