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Indoor gatherings allowed from Friday as Scotland moves to stage three

Nicola Sturgeon announcing changes to Holyrood on Thursday. Image credit: Scottish Parliament TV

Indoor gatherings allowed from Friday as Scotland moves to stage three

The First Minister has confirmed that Scotland will enter phase three of exiting lockdown on Friday, which means that up to three households can meet indoors and from next week pubs, restaurants and churches will reopen.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland had made “major progress in tackling COVID-19” with prevalence of the virus in the country “now several times lower than it is across the UK as a whole”.

“It is because of that action we can move into phase three,” she said.

“Today marks the most significant milestone yet in Scotland’s emergence from lockdown.

“Measures announced today are, of course, dependent on us keeping the virus under control and we will not hesitate to re-impose restrictions if we consider it necessary to halt the spread of the virus and save lives.

“During phase three we will start to resume and reopen many activities and settings such as opening indoor pubs and restaurants, allowing more indoor meetings between households, and reopening places of worship.

“Eliminating the virus as far as possible now – ahead of the almost inevitable challenges we will face come winter – remains our objective.

“The five principles behind our FACTS campaign – face coverings; avoiding crowded spaces; cleaning hands and surfaces; two metre distancing; and self-isolation if you have symptoms – are more important than they have ever been.”

The changes that come into effect from Friday 10 July include that a maximum of 15 people from up to five households can meet together outdoors, while keeping two metres apart, and eight people from up to three households can meet indoors and stay overnight, while also maintaining physical distancing.

Sturgeon described the changes to indoor gatherings as “one of, if not the highest risk change we have made so far”.

“We know that the risk of transmitting the virus indoors is significantly higher than it is outdoors, so it is essential that we all take the upmost care and strictly follow all of the public health advice,” she said.

“That means keeping two metres distant from people in other households, being very careful to clean surfaces after you touch them and washing your hands regularly – especially when you first enter someone’s house.”

From Monday 13 July organised outdoor play and contact sports can resume for people aged under 18 and non-essential shops in shopping centres will be allowed to reopen.

From Wednesday 15 July indoor restaurants, cafes and pubs will be able to reopen, with hospitality venues granted an exception to the two metre distancing requirement. This will require mitigating measures such as “clear information for customers, revised seating plans, and all hospitality venues are required to record contact details of customers to support Test and Protect”.

All holiday accommodation will also be allowed to reopen from this date, as well as the childcare sector, hairdressers and barbers, museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries. Places of worship can reopen from Wednesday too, for communal prayer, congregational service and contemplation with limited attendance numbers and physical distancing.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said the confirmation of moving to stage three would be welcomed by “businesses that are due to reopen and begin to build up their trade”. 

“Hospitality and tourism businesses now need time to plan therefore the exact detail around the mitigations they will be expected to put in place to safely reduce physical distancing to one metre from two metres is needed now,” she said.

“Our business communities across Scotland are eager and ready to get back to work in order to breathe life back into our economy and protect the livelihoods it supports. The next great challenge is now determining if consumer demand can be stimulated and maintained as government support measures taper off in the next few months.’’

Sturgeon also announced personal retail services like beauticians and nail salons can happen from 22 July, and universities and colleges could implement a phased return to campuses from that date.

She did not set a date for reopening "non-essential" offices, indoor gyms, entertainment venues like theatres and bingo halls, or the resumption of live outdoor events, but said none of this would not occur before 31 July. The next review of lockdown restrictions is due on 30 July.

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