Lockdown measures in Scotland to be eased from next week - and schools reopen in August

21 May 2020, 13:39

By Megan White

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a "careful relaxation" of lockdown measures in Scotland from next Thursday.

From May 28 in Scotland, more outdoor activity will be allowed, including letting people sit in parks with people from one other household while observing social distancing.

Golf, tennis, bowls, fishing and other non-contact outdoor activities will be allowed to resume, along with letting people travel a short distance to take part in recreation.

From August 11, all schools in Scotland will reopen, with children returning to a "blended model of part-time in-school and part-time at-home learning".

Ms Sturgeon said people "will be able to travel - preferably by walking or cycling - to a location near their local community for recreation", but they should "stay within or close to their own local area" if possible.

Waste and recycling services, along with some outdoor businesses, will also be allowed to reopen, Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.

Despite outlining the new moves, the First Minister said that they are not currently in place, and said that there is a chance the stricter measures could be reapplied if the spread of the virus increases.

She said: "I hope they will bring some improvement to people's wellbeing and quality of life, start to get our economy moving again, and start to steer us safely towards a new normality.

"It's important to stress, though, that while the permitted reasons to be out of your house will increase, the default message during phase one will remain 'Stay at Home' as much as possible."

A total of 2,221 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 37 from 2,184 on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said 14,856 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 105 from 14,751 the day before.

There are 1,318 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of 125.

Of these, 51 were in intensive care, a fall of two.

The First Minister said lockdown could be eased as the latest estimate of the reproduction rate - or R number - for the virus, remained between 0.7 and one.

She said that in March, the R number was estimated to have been four.

She cautioned, however, that there is still uncertainty about just how far below one it is.

The construction industry will be allowed to resume and any workplaces permitted to return in phase two will be able to prepare for the return of staff during the first phase.

The First Minister also said a "phased resumption" of aspects of the criminal justice system will take place, along with a gradual restart of NHS services, such as cancer screenings, which were paused as a result of the outbreak.

Teachers and other school staff will return during June to prepare classrooms for the new term.

During June and over the summer, an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare and the Scottish Government will provide "transition support for children going into primary 1 or moving from primary 7 to secondary school".

Ms Sturgeon added: "To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, we are going to invest a further £30 million to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to study online."

Addressing those who have been asked to shield for 12 weeks due to an underlying health condition, the First Minister said: "We know that the isolation imposed by shielding over a long period of time is in itself harmful. And so, although we are not changing our advice on shielding yet, we will issue new guidance before the initial period of shielding ends on 18 June.

"This will aim to increase your quality of life and your ability to make informed choices, while continuing to protect you as much as possible from the risks the virus poses.

"I understand how hard this is for you, and I want you to know that you are central to our thinking as we move forward."