Nicola Sturgeon eases Scotland lockdown to Level 0 - but face masks remain mandatory

13 July 2021, 14:10 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 15:45

Scotland will move to Level 0 restrictions but with some modifications, and with masks still mandatory.
Scotland will move to Level 0 restrictions but with some modifications, and with masks still mandatory. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Scotland will move to Level 0 lockdown rules from Monday 19 June, but with "some modifications" as cases remain high in the country.

In a virtual address to the Scottish Parliament the first minister said this was a "a time for continued caution".

The first minister also made a pointed remark about government's responsibility as she confirmed that unlike England masks will remain mandatory in Scotland.

"Lifting all restrictions and mitigations right now would put all of us at greater risk, but in particular it would make it much more difficult for the clinically vulnerable to go about their normal lives," she warned.

"It would risk the imposition of shielding by default and in my view that is not something we should do."

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

Read more: Nightclubs say they won't ask for Covid passports, despite PM urging use

Ms Sturgeon added that previously surging cases have now levelled off and are falling, but are remain high.

"In our view and in line with clinical advice and modelling, a gradual approach stands the best chance of minimising further health harm and loss of life," she said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that cases remain high in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that cases remain high in Scotland. Picture: PA

The Scottish Cabinet met earlier to sign off on the decision ahead of the announcement.

Face masks

Face masks will remain mandatory "for some time to come", even after other restrictions are removed in the future, the first minister confirmed.

In a pointed remark to Boris Johnson's government, Ms Sturgeon said: "It is my view that if government believes measures like this matter, and this government does, we should say so.

"We should do what is necessary to ensure compliance and we should be prepared to take any resulting flack from those who disagree.

"We shouldn't lift important restrictions to make our lives easier and then expect the public to take the responsibility to do the right thing anyway."

Mr Johnson's government has been criticised for lifting the legal requirement to wear a face mask, but keeping guidance in place that suggests people should do so.

Read more: Face masks: Everything you need to know about new rules in England from July 19

Read more: Minister says some businesses will use vaccine passports for 'comfort' of customers

Ben Kentish asks PM why masks are becoming optional

Level 0 rules - with modifications

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

But while social distancing rules were planned to be scrapped entirely outdoors, allowing large events to take place, the Scottish government will keep this in place for "at least three weeks".

Groups of up to 15 from 15 different households can meet outdoors, but they must remain at least one metre away from other groups of 15.

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.

Children under 12 will not count in these numbers.

Read more: Doctors warn of serious mental effects on children with long Covid ahead of 19 July

Read more: France and Greece introduce mandatory vaccines for health workers

Social distancing rules will be decreased from two metres to one, but will remain in place.
Social distancing rules will be decreased from two metres to one, but will remain in place. Picture: PA

The 11pm closure time for pubs operating indoors will also be changed to midnight. Originally this was planned to be scrapped entirely, 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.

People in Scotland will also be told to continue working from home where they can, delaying a return to the office for millions.

Scotland will also aline with England on allowing fully vaccinated travellers to return from amber-list countries without quarantining. Like England this will only apply to those who have been vaccinated on the NHS.

But unlike England, Ms Sturgeon urged Scots not to travel abroad for non-essential reasons like holidays.

Read more: Bookings to amber list countries surge by 400% after quarantine announcement

Read more: Quarantine scrapped for double-jabbed UK residents returning from Amber list countries

The travel industry has welcomed the news that fully vaccinated amber-list travellers will not be forced to quarantine.
The travel industry has welcomed the news that fully vaccinated amber-list travellers will not be forced to quarantine. Picture: PA

The Scottish government hopes to move beyond Level 0 from 9 August, removing the remaining restrictions.

Future changes to self-isolation

The first minister also announced her plans for self-isolation rules for those who have been in close contact with a Covid-19 case.

However, these changes will only come into effect when the country moves beyond Level 0 - expected to be from 9 August at the earliest.

From that point, people who have received both vaccines and had a negative PCR test will not be forced to isolate.

Ms Sturgeon added that she has instructed education advisers to investigate if the self-isolation requirement for school and university pupils can be removed and what has to be done to do so.

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