VIRUS: THE LOCK DOWN IS LIFTED AT LAST

FM 6By Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister

I am sure that everyone will want to know what changes will be made as we move to phase 1, but first I offer a word of caution. Not every phase 1 measure will necessarily be introduced immediately on 28 May.

Some might be introduced a few days after that, and, depending on the evidence, it is possible that some might have to be postponed, although I very much hope that that will not be the case.

Next week, when we have completed our formal review, we will make clear exactly what changes we are making and when, and we will ensure that detailed information is available for the public.

Beach at Barcelona

Sunbathing at Havoc will be allowed – but not like this. The two metre rule will apply here in Scotland. Picture by Bill Heaney

I will now set out some of the likely changes in phase 1. More outdoor activity will be permitted. People will be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and they will be able to meet people from one other household—although initially in small numbers—while they are outside.

We hope that that change will benefit everyone, but particularly those without gardens and people who live on their own. It is important to stress, though, that different households should remain 2m apart from each other. That will be critical in ensuring that that change does not provide easy routes of transmission for the virus. Because of the much higher risk of indoor transmission, visiting inside each other’s houses will not be permitted in phase 1.

Fishing on Loch Lomond and  Golfing at Broadmeadow will be allowed.

Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities will be allowed to restart, such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing—subject, of course, to people engaging in appropriate hygiene measures and physical distancing. In addition, people will be able to travel—preferably by walking or cycling—to a location near their local community for recreation, although we are asking people, where possible, to stay within or close to their local area.

Waste and recycling services will resume, as will many outdoor businesses such as agriculture and forestry. The construction industry will be able to carefully implement steps 1 and 2 of its six-step restart plan, which it has developed with us. However, I make it clear that there must be genuine partnership with trade unions—the resumption of activity can take place only if it is done safely.

In the first phase, other industries that are expected to resume in phase 2 will be permitted to prepare workplaces for the safe return of workers and customers. We will no longer discourage takeaway and drive-through food outlets from reopening, as long as they apply safe physical distancing. Outdoor retail outlets such as garden centres will be allowed to reopen. However, non-essential indoor shops, as well as indoor cafes, restaurants and pubs, must remain closed in the first phase.

Some key community support services will resume. For example, face-to-face children’s hearings will restart, using physical distancing, and people who are at risk will have more contact with social work and support services.

The criminal justice system will soon be back in the courts at Dumbarton.

We are also planning a phased resumption of aspects of the criminal justice system. In addition, we will carefully and gradually resume national health service services that were paused as a result of the crisis. I remind people that, as of now, they should contact their general practitioner or NHS 24, or dial 999, if they need to. That message is really important.

I stress that those phase 1 measures, most of which have an outdoor focus, are not in place yet, and they are dependent on our continuing to suppress the virus. They will also be monitored carefully as they take effect.

However, we view them as a proportionate and suitably cautious set of first steps, and I hope that they will bring some improvement to people’s well-being and quality of life, start to get our economy moving again and start to steer us safely towards a new normality.

It is important to stress, though, that while the permitted reasons for people to be out of their house will increase, the default message during phase 1 will continue to be to stay at home as much as possible.

As we move into subsequent phases, more restrictions will be removed. Details of those later phases and the criteria that we will need to meet are set out in the document.

We will make decisions on when, and to what extent, we can move to those phases carefully, and on the basis of evidence, and we will carry out formal reviews at least every three weeks—although I hope that we can move more quickly than that, if the evidence allows it.

I want to take a moment to talk directly to people who are currently shielding—those whom we have asked to isolate completely for 12 weeks because we know that they are at greatest risk from the virus.

We know that the isolation that is imposed by shielding over a long period of time is in itself very difficult and, indeed, harmful, so although we are not changing our advice on shielding yet, I confirm that we will issue new guidance before the initial period of shielding ends on 18 June.

I say to those who are shielding that that will aim to increase your quality of life and your ability to make informed choices, while continuing to protect you as much as possible from the risks that the virus poses. I really understand how hard this is for all of you who are shielding, but I want you to know, at this point, that you are central to our thinking, as we move forward—through and out of the crisis.

More generally, the route map sets out what phases 2, 3 and 4 will mean for various areas of activity. It tries to give as definite as possible a sense of when, and on what basis, we might be able to see friends and family on something like a normal basis.

We have set out what the different phases will mean for transport. I confirm that we will publish a much more detailed transport transition plan on Tuesday next week.

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Dining and drinking al fresco – that will be back, but it may be limited to outside at first. Picture by Bill Heaney

We have also outlined the further stages, in which businesses might reopen. I stress that we want to move through the stages as quickly as the evidence allows; getting the economy moving again matters very much to all of us. We have sought to focus first on industries in which people simply cannot work from home.

However, safety and the confidence of employers, employees and customers are essential, which is why detailed guidance for key sectors of the economy will follow in the days ahead. I stress that we will continue to require, for the foreseeable future, home working where that is possible. We will also encourage flexible working, including consideration of four-day weeks, for example.

We are indicating the phases in which service industries might reopen—businesses such as restaurants, bars and hairdressers. That last is a priority, I know, for almost every woman in the country— And men! 

For restaurants and bars, opening of outdoor spaces will come earlier than opening of indoor spaces.


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