Coronavirus: Scotland to set out 'route map' for easing lockdown

20 May 2020, 22:37 | Updated: 21 May 2020, 05:20

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today set out a "route map" for a four-phased lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Restrictions on outdoor activities like golf and fishing will be lifted, garden centres and recycling centres will be allowed to reopen and people will be able to meet someone from a different household, with social distancing.

Ms Sturgeon will tell the Scottish Parliament today that the changes will come into force on 28th May, assuming continued success in suppression of the coronavirus.

Progress will be assessed every three weeks, before lifting restrictions further.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Ms Sturgeon said: "The enormous sacrifices made by people and businesses across Scotland have had a real impact on the spread of COVID-19 and I would like to thank everybody who has helped to protect themselves, each other and our health and care services.

"For the time being, the advice on staying at home except for essential purposes remains the same, but we hope to shortly be ready to start easing the lockdown restrictions and today's route map will outline how we can do that."

The first minister said she has been "guided by the latest scientific advice", which listening to the views of the people in Scotland.

The route map will be based on World Health Organisation guidance, as well as the experience of other countries who have eased lockdown.

"This will be a very gradual process as we monitor how changing behaviour affects the infection rate and we will only be able to move toward easing more restrictions if we continue to work together to suppress the virus," Ms Sturgeon said.

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"Protecting lives will continue to be our number one priority - and I am confident that people across Scotland will continue to pull together in this national endeavour as we return to some kind of normality."

Scotland's easing of restrictions has prompted increased preparations for a return to work and play in very different circumstances.

On the Old Course at St Andrews, the home of golf, they have made preparations for a 'no-touch' game tweaked by new infection controls.

Hole pins bear a flag with the warning: "Do Not Touch Flag or Pin, COVID-19."

Foam has been placed onto the bottom of the pins so the ball doesn't drop fully, but comes to rest between the pin and the 'lip' of the hole.

This means it can be easily lifted and no hands need to delve into the hole to retrieve it.

Sandy Reid, director of green keeping at St Andrews Links, told Sky News: "For the last two months it's been strange, it's been like a Sunday.

"The Old Course is closed every Sunday and it's been like that for us throughout. It's certainly been a challenge.

"We'll be encouraging golfers not to touch the pins, bins and benches on the course, just to make sure that everyone's safe - both staff and customers."