The coronavirus lockdown is to be gradually lifted after Nicola Sturgeon announced a “phased approach” to easing restrictions.
The First Minister revealed the Scottish Government’s ‘route map’ out of lockdown at Holyrood yesterday (Thursday).
The plan means that, from the end of next week, Stirling residents will be able to meet friends and relatives in parks and gardens with social distancing – as long as the country continues to move forward in the fight against Covid-19.
Addressing ministers, Ms Sturgeon said that Scotland’s emergence from the coronavirus lockdown “must be gradual and phased” and said that the route map outlines four phases, covering nine key aspects of life – seeing friends and family, travel and getting around, education and childcare, work, business and the economy, shopping and leisure, sport and culture, public gatherings and special occasions, communities and public services, and health and social care.
Ms Sturgeon hopes to move from lockdown to phase 1, lifting some of the restrictions from Thursday, May 28. She said: “As we enter later phases – as and when the evidence allows – more restrictions will be removed.”
More outdoor activities are to be allowed. The First Minister said: “You will be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and you will be able to meet people from one other household, though initially in small numbers, while you are outside.
“This is a change which we hope will benefit everyone, but particularly those without gardens, and people who live on their own.
“However it is important to stress that different households should remain two metres apart from each other – that is critical in ensuring that this change doesn’t provide the virus with easy routes of transmission.”
Leisure activities, including golf, tennis, bowls and fishing are to be permitted –subject to appropriate hygiene and social distancing.
Ms Sturgeon added “In addition, people will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling – to a location near their local community for recreation. However, we are asking people where possible to stay within or close to their own local area.”
Take away and drive-though food outlets will be allowed to re-open and outdoor retail outlets, such as garden centres, will also be allowed to re-open.
Non-essential indoor shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed during phase 1 and restrictions surrounding funerals would remain in place.
NHS services which were paused as a result of the health crisis will gradually resume.
But the message from the Scottish Government remains for people to stay at home where they can.
In the second phase of the plan people will be able to meet outside with larger groups, including family and friends, with social distancing, and would also be able to meet people from another household indoors with social distancing and hygiene measures.
Schools are to re-open on August 11 as part of a “blended model” that will include children attending school part-time and learning from home part-time.
Phase 3 will “begin to feel closer to normal”. By this stage, people will be able to meet with people from more than one household indoors with physical distancing and hygiene measures.
Pubs and restaurants would be allowed to re-open indoor spaces with social distancing and increased hygiene routines during this phase. Hair salons and barbers would also be able to re-open during this period.
Phase 4 would be the final phase, where mass gatherings could resume.
Graham Scott, of Benview Garden Centre near Aberfoyle said: “We have been delivering goods to our customers but have not been able to keep pace with the level of demand. We’ve been working hard to adapt Benview for social distancing so that we are ready to welcome loyal customers back.”