Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Scotland relaxes lockdown rules on travel and meeting up outdoors
16 April 2021, 06:10
Restrictions on travel and outdoor meetings are being relaxed in Scotland from today.
People in Scotland will be able to leave their local authority area for socialising, recreation or exercise. People are still being advised to stay local where possible however for things like shopping.
The latest stage in lockdown easing was announced at an unscheduled Covid-19 briefing by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.
She said the continued decline in virus cases meant the restrictions can be eased earlier than planned.
From Friday, Scots can travel across local authority boundaries for outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise.
But they must follow the "stay local" order for other purposes such as non-essential shopping, and travel to some islands is not allowed.
Rules on gatherings have also been relaxed, with groups of up to six adults from six households now allowed to meet outdoors.
Children under 12 do not count towards the limit.
The easing comes after barbers and hairdressers opened on April 5 and ahead of a more substantial unlocking of the country on April 26.
On that date, Scotland will move from Level 4 to Level 3 of the four-tier system of restrictions.
Cafes, restaurants and beer gardens can then reopen, along with shops, gyms, libraries and museums.
Travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted and tourist accommodation can welcome back visitors.
Other restrictions will ease in May and over the summer if Covid-19 continues to be suppressed.
Announcing the measures on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said: "We have always said we will keep plans under review and accelerate the lifting of restrictions if possible.
"The improved data does not allow us to throw caution to the wind - not if we are sensible - but it does give us a bit of limited headroom.
"So from the end of this week, you will be able to meet up with family and friends who live in different parts of the country.
"Many of those reunions will be long-awaited, and much anticipated. Please do remember that meetings at this stage must still be outdoors - you cannot socialise in people's homes - and remember due to physical distancing, public transport capacity remains relatively limited."
But on Thursday, the First Minister said it was "positive" that the easing of travel restrictions had been brought forward, but cautioned Scots not to allow their guard to drop.
"What I would say to people is enjoy it, we've waited a long time, it's been really tough, but please, please be careful," she said.
"Don't go to crowded places, if you're headed to a beach or a park and it's crowded please come away again because crowded places are not safe places to be.
"Please stick to all of the rules and advice, remember your face covering, remember, as I say, to avoid crowded places, hand hygiene, keep your two metre distancing."
The First Minister added: "As long as we all stick to the advice that's still in place, this easing of restrictions tomorrow should be the first of many and I think, not least because of the vaccine programme, we can all afford to be just that bit more optimistic right now."