Sport stadiums and music venues to return in Scotland from September – Sturgeon

Sport stadiums, live music venues and theatres can reopen in Scotland from September 14, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

But Scotland will not yet move to phase four of its route map out of the coronavirus lockdown and local authorities and police will be given new powers to enforce restrictions.

The First Minister gave the results of a three-week review of lockdown restrictions to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

She said Scotland cannot move to the last stage of its four-step plan to ease out of lockdown as the virus is still a significant threat.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The last 24 hours have seen the highest number of daily cases in almost three months, she said, and the R number may now be above 1.

A total of 77 new Covid-19 cases were recorded over the last day, taking the total to 19,534.

But the First Minister confirmed a previously announced relaxation of measures and give indicative dates for others.

From August 24, some outdoor live events can take place, organised outdoor contact sports will resume for people of all ages, and driving lessons can return.

Gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts can reopen from August 31, brought forward from an original date of September 14.

“For indoor sports courts – which include dance studios and gymnastics – it is worth stressing that for people aged 12 and over, the reopening on this date applies to non-contact activity only,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Giving indicative dates for future reopenings, the First Minister said that from September 14 “sports stadia will be able to reopen, though only for limited numbers of spectators and with strict physical distancing in place”.

Some safety pilots of professional sports events may take place before then, she said.

Indoor contact sports activities, entertainment sites and cultural venues – such as theatres and live music venues – can reopen from September 14, and wedding and civil partnership receptions and funeral wakes can have more attendees, although numbers will remain restricted.

A date has not been set for the reopening of non-essential call centres and offices, with home working remaining the default position.

The reopening of offices and call centres would “significantly increase the risk of indoor transmission” and “make it more difficult to keep schools open”, Ms Sturgeon said.

She said: “This does come down to difficult judgments about priorities.

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“We have made clear that our priority is to enable children to be safely back at school. And with the virus at its current levels, that means we cannot do everything else we would like to do – like bring back non-essential offices.”

Ms Sturgeon also announced an intention to give new powers to police and local authorities.

“The Scottish Government has powers under emergency legislation to issue directions in respect of a class of premises – for example, to close all pubs in a particular postcode,” she said

“We intend to give local authorities the power to act in respect of individual, specific premises that are breaching guidelines and risking transmission of the virus.”

This power would enable local authorities to close premises or to impose conditions on their opening.

Police will also be given powers to break up house parties as they “pose a very real and significant risk of clusters and outbreaks”.

“For use in cases of flagrant breach and as a last resort we intend to give the police powers of enforcement to break up and disperse large indoor gatherings,” she said.

“We believe that both of these new powers are necessary to continue to suppress the virus. “