Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Gyms and swimming pools in Scotland to reopen from 31 August
20 August 2020, 13:50
Gyms and swimming pools in Scotland can reopen from 31 August, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
Speaking during the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon confirmed both facilities, along with indoor sports courts, would be free to welcome members back at the end of the month.
The decision to bring forward the date by two weeks comes as Scotland recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus cases in almost three months.
Ms Sturgeon told reporters: "Three weeks ago, I indicated that they could reopen from 14 September, but I also said that we would consider if that date could safely be brought forward - especially given the wider physical and mental health benefits of access to these facilities.
"Having done so, I am now able to confirm that those facilities can reopen - subject to guidance being in place - from 31 August."
The first minister confirmed these would be the only changes to lockdown measures she would be able to announce on Thursday.
"We hope that further changes will be possible from Monday 14 September, in line with what is currently set out in our route map," she added.
"However, I must stress these possible changes are at this stage indicative only.
"And given the volatility we face in the transmission of the virus, there is a very real possibility that these plans will change."
Speaking about potential future changes, Ms Sturgeon said she hoped sports stadiums could open from 14 September, "though only for limited numbers of spectators and with strict physical distancing in place".
She added: "Some professional sports events may be arranged for spectators before then - with Scottish Government agreement - to test the safety of any new arrangements."
It is also hoped indoor contact sports activities can resume for people aged 12 and over from the same date.
Entertainment sites and cultural venues - such as theatres and live music venues - could be able to reopen then too, but once again so long as strict physical distancing measures are enforced.
"To facilitate that, these venues can open for preparation and rehearsals from 24 August," the First Minister said.
She added: "Finally, we hope that from 14 September wedding and civil partnership receptions and funeral wakes will be able to take place with more attendees than at present, although numbers will remain restricted.
"We intend to set out more detail on this, including on permitted numbers, shortly."
However, the Scottish leader could not announce a date for when workers could return to non-essential offices and call centres, adding that opening them would "make it more difficult to keep schools open".
Speaking during the briefing, Ms Sturgeon said 19,534 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 77 from 19,457 the day before.
No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, she said.
The first minister told MSPs Scotland would remain in phase three of her four-part plan for easing lockdown restrictions.
She said: "I am not able to indicate, today, a move from phase three of our route map out of lockdown to phase four.
"We will remain, for now, in phase three and I must give notice today that this may well be the case beyond the next review point too."