Grandparents in Scotland can hug grandkids from Friday, Sturgeon says

2 July 2020, 18:12

Grandparents and grandchildren have been largely separated for months
Grandparents and grandchildren have been largely separated for months. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Grandparents can hug their grandchildren in Scotland from Friday for the first time in three months, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Children aged 11 or younger will no longer need to socially distance from other under-12s or adults under the new rules, as long as they are outdoors.

The latest easing of lockdown rules applies to children who are not shielding, and is based on evidence that the risk to young people from coronavirus is “relatively low”, the First Minister said.

But social distancing remains in force for children over the age of 11, but those aged 12 to 17 will now be able to meet up to eight others from a maximum of three households.

“We want to help children enjoy these summer holidays a bit more,” the Ms Sturgeon said.

“For children who are 11 years old or under, we are removing the requirement for you to physically distance with other people when you’re outdoors.

“That will allow you to play more normally with your friends, which I hope you will enjoy. I’m sure this move will also be appreciated by your parents and carers.

“However, other rules will remain the same for the next wee while – you should continue to meet in groups of eight or less and to meet no more than two other households at a time.”

In a major move, the First Minister also announced that the two-metre rule will also start to be halved in pubs, restaurants and shops and on public transport from next Friday.

But in a break with the rest of the UK, face coverings will be mandatory in Scottish shops and enforced with a £60 fine.

Clarifying the new rules in a tweet, Ms Sturgeon added: “Outdoors only, children 11 or under no longer need to physically distance from other children/adults.

“For those asking, yes that does mean they can hug gran/grandad (but not if the adult is shielding). Adults must distance from each other & stick to rules on size of gatherings.”

Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said: “Findings from new evidence and research now allow us to reconsider and update the advice about which children are at the highest risk.”

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He revealed he has written to doctors to see if children currently shielding, including those with asthma or diabetes, epilepsy and kidney disease, can no longer do so.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes are reopening in England on Saturday, but indoor areas will open in Scotland from 15 July with safety protocols including Perspex dividers and back-to-back seats.