Coronavirus restrictions to be eased in Glasgow after almost nine months of lockdown

1 June 2021, 14:29 | Updated: 2 June 2021, 01:13

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Coronavirus restrictions will be eased in Glasgow after almost nine months of lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The announcement by Scotland’s First Minister means Glaswegians will be able to drink alcohol indoors, meet in private residences and hug loved ones from the weekend.

Updating MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Monday, Ms Sturgeon also said large parts of northern and southern Scotland could now move from level two to level one of the five tiers of restrictions.

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However, she added that the vast majority of Scotland's central belt will remain in level two restrictions due to spikes in cases of the virus.

Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the three Ayrshire areas, North and South Lanarkshire and Clackmannanshire and Stirling will remain in level two.

Glasgow, which was kept in level three when measures were eased in the rest of the country on May 17, will move to level two on midnight on Friday, with Ms Sturgeon saying the outbreak there had stabilised with case numbers falling slightly.

However, she said cases in the city "do still remain high" and urged people to be cautious.

The First Minister said there could be an argument to move the central belt areas which will remain at level two into level three, given the raw figures, but the impact of the vaccination programme has meant this would not be needed.

"It is important to stress that this is a pause, not a step backwards," she said.

She added: "Taking a cautious approach now - while more people get fully vaccinated - gives us the best chance of staying on the right track overall."

Scotland currently has the highest rate of new cases of Covid-19 of the four nations of the UK.

But Ms Sturgeon said there are "many parts of mainland Scotland where cases are at very low levels and broadly stable or where case numbers might appear to be rising, but we are assured that they relate to clusters that are being managed".

Those in level one areas can meet outside and indoors in public places in larger groups.

Numbers at events, weddings and funerals can also increase, and pubs can open slightly later indoors.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross previously said areas should not be left behind if restrictions are relaxed.

He said: "Everyone understands that there will be a need for local, targeted measures when an outbreak occurs.

"But leaving behind whole areas should be ruled out. Sweeping measures that unnecessarily hurt a whole city or council area are unfair on businesses and local people waiting to get on with their lives."

Mr Ross argued: "Selectively imposing restrictions and targeting resources at smaller areas is entirely possible. The blanket council-wide approach is not the only plausible option.

"The one-size-fits-all approach should be replaced by targeted interventions to tackle local outbreaks."