Nicola Sturgeon to confirm if Scottish Covid-19 restrictions will ease on 19 July

13 July 2021, 08:54 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 09:51

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has stressed any relaxation of Covid rules to Level 0 requires "care and caution".
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has stressed any relaxation of Covid rules to Level 0 requires "care and caution". Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce whether Scotland's coronavirus restrictions will be eased as planned on Monday.

In an address to the Scottish Parliament at 2pm on Tuesday, the first minister will confirm if the country can move to Level 0.

Ahead of the speech, Ms Sturgeon will meet with her Cabinet on Tuesday morning to make the decision.

Read more: 'Irresponsible': Senior doctors condemn PM's 19 July lockdown easing

Read more: Scottish hospital declares 'code black' as Covid cases surge

The relaxation of rules would still retain much stricter restrictions than in England, where almost all legal Covid-19 requirements will be lifted on 19 July, despite opposition from senior doctors.

Level 0 rules

Under Level 0 rules in Scotland, the two-metre distancing requirement will be reduced to one metre in indoor public spaces.

Up to eight people from four households will be able to meet in private homes, while groups of 10 from four households can meet in pubs or restaurants.

The 11pm closure time for pubs operating indoors will also be scrapped, with local licensing conditions applying instead.

The maximum capacity for weddings and funerals will double to 200 people, but nightclubs and adult entertainment will have to remain shut.

Members of the wedding industry protested outside the Scottish Parliament in June calling for the lifting of restrictions.
Members of the wedding industry protested outside the Scottish Parliament in June calling for the lifting of restrictions. Picture: PA

'Care and caution'

Alongside the rest of the UK, the Scottish first minister delayed the planned easing of lockdown rules in June as the delta Covid-19 variant drove a surge in cases.

Last Tuesday, a hospital in Inverness announced it had reached capacity and been declared a "code black status" amid a "significant" increase in Covid-19 cases.

All non-urgent elective surgery at Raigmore Hospital was cancelled, as Covid cases rose and an increasing number of staff were told to self-isolate.

Raigmore Hospital in Inverness declared a "code black" as Covid cases rise.
Raigmore Hospital in Inverness declared a "code black" as Covid cases rise. Picture: PA

Ms Sturgeon last week stressed that any additional lifting of coronavirus rules would require "care and caution" due to the record number of coronavirus cases in Scotland.

She added that face coverings and other Covid safety measures would "continue to be important mitigations in protecting ourselves and others from the virus, perhaps for some time yet."

The Scottish Conservatives have been pushing for a relaxation of rules. On Tuesday morning, Stephen Kerr, chief whip for the party at Holyrood, tweeted: "I'm hoping today's COVID briefing provides some insight into how we're planning to reopen the country.

"Talk of keeping some restrictions before going to level 0 (level 0.5) and of maintaining restrictions after level 0 (level -1) has made me very worried."

While in England almost all rules will be scrapped on 19 July, in Scotland "all major" restrictions will be lifted on 9 August "if the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue".

Read more: Schoolchildren missed out on a third of learning during coronavirus pandemic

On Monday, the latest Covid-19 statistics showed 2,134 coronavirus cases were recorded in the past 24 hours in Scotland, but no deaths.

A total of 469 people were in hospital in Scotland on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 24 on the previous day, with 40 patients in intensive care.

The Welsh Government is expected to set out its next steps on Wednesday.