Scotland eases lockdown so households can meet up for first time in two months
Friends and families will be reunited as Scotland moves to the first phase of its four step plan to ease lockdown restrictions.
This afternoon First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the country would begin easing social restrictions first put in place on March 23.
From Friday people will be able to meet up with friends and relatives from other households, one household at a time.
Scots can also take part in some non-contact sports including golf, angling and outdoor swimming.
Garden centres, drive-through restaurants and recycling centres will also be reopened.
The First Minister announced that teachers would be allowed to re-enter schools to prepare for the proposed return of schools on August 11.
People will also now be allowed to sit and sunbathe in local parks.
A legal limit will not be put on how far people will be allowed to travel for recreation but the First Minister said the “strong advice” of the Scottish Government was to stay within five miles.
She added: “We simply don’t want, in this phase, large numbers of people at tourist hotspots or beauty spots.
“Crowds of people, even if they’re trying to social distance, bring more risk than we judge is acceptable at this point.”
The First Minister asked that the number of people together between the two households should not exceed a maximum of eight people, along with asking that meetings do not take place with a different household in the same day.
She said: “I know how much all of you, all of us, will be looking forward to seeing family and friends for the first time in a while, but how we do this will be vital.
“Before you meet up with people from another household, you should stop, think, read the guidance and make sure you’re protecting yourself and others.
“In particular, you must stay outdoors and stay two metres away from people from the other household – that is crucial.”
The First Minister told those who had been asked to shield for 12 weeks due to an underlying health condition that they have “not been forgotten”, adding that measures were being drawn up to move to “less of a blanket approach” that reflects the circumstances of the individual.
Ms Sturgeon said her confidence in the move to phase one was boosted by the initiation of the Test and Protect scheme in Scotland, which is aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.
Under the scheme, those who are symptomatic will be tested and their contacts traced should they have the virus.
The First Minister also said people will be able to help to stop the spread of the virus by continuing to social distance.
She added: “Test and Protect will be a crucial part of our efforts to control this virus in the weeks ahead, but it will not do it on its own.”
The use of face coverings, social distancing and hand washing, the First Minister said, will remain key to tackling the spread of the virus.
Ms Sturgeon said that a downward trend in coronavirus cases was “sustained and unmistakable”.
The transmission rate, known as the R number, remains between 0.7 and 1, although the First Minister said she could not be clear how low.
Ms Sturgeon said there were 19,000 infectious cases of the virus as of last week.
She said: “We have all waited a long time for this” as she implored the public to follow the guidance.
“Be respectful of each other’s space and make sure that things still feel different to normal.
“Above all, remember that each individual decision that we take will affect the safety and the wellbeing of everyone.
“Make sure that love, kindness and solidarity continue to be our guiding principles.”
A total of 2,316 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 12 from 2,304 on Wednesday.