Sturgeon urges Scots to enjoy relaxation of lockdown restrictions responsibly

Nicola Sturgeon has urged people in Scotland to be responsible as they enjoy the partial lifting of lockdown restrictions.

The First Minister said she is “not trying to cramp anyone’s fun this weekend” as changes allow people to meet family and friends outdoors.

But she warned the virus could surge again if safety precautions are not observed.

As of Friday, people in Scotland can meet one other household at a time outdoors – though they should continue to socially distance when meeting and the maximum number in the group should be eight.

People are also allowed to sit or sunbathe in nearby parks and travel locally for recreation.

Further changes as the country moves into phase one of the Scottish Government’s four-part plan for gradually lifting lockdown include outdoor sports such as tennis, golf, bowls and fishing being permitted, and garden centres reopening.

Most outdoor work can resume, construction sites can prepare for work to start again and drive-through restaurants are no longer being discouraged from opening.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon reiterated her plea to ensure any meetings with other households adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The First Minister also wants people to ensure items such as cutlery and food are not shared and they do not enter homes that are not their own.

She also asked Scots to avoid crowds at parks and beauty spots across the country, urging them to go elsewhere if areas are busy and not to travel further than five miles from home.

Ms Sturgeon said the changes will improve the lives of Scots but revealed she remains “nervous” about the easing of measures in case more people begin to flout the remaining rules, which she warned would lead to a resurgence in the virus and more deaths.

“I’m not trying at all to cramp anyone’s fun this weekend, I really do want everyone to enjoy these changes because all of you have more than earned it but I am asking you to please do so responsibly, ” she said.

“If you are in doubt about whether your plans are within the rules or not, err on the side of caution.

“However harsh these rules might feel right now, and I know that they do, abiding by them will never, ever be as harsh as grieving the loss of a loved one.”

Tennis stock
Some non-contact outdoor sports such as tennis can now resume (Danny Lawson/PA)

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon said lockdown, which has been in place since March 23, is being eased from Friday after a “sustained and unmistakable” downward trend in coronavirus cases.

At the briefing on Friday, she said 15,327 people have tested positive for the virus across Scotland, a rise of 39 from 15,288 on Thursday.

A total of 2,331 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up 15 from 2,316 on the previous day.

There are 1,216 patients in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a fall of 22 in 24 hours from 1,238.

Of these, 40 were in intensive care, an increase of three.

Earlier, police also warned people to avoid busy areas and beauty spots as lockdown eases.

Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone said: “We recognise that people have made significant sacrifices until now, and, while the temptation may be to head straight for one of our beauty spots, we would ask people to use their judgment and avoid going to places which are normally busy during the good weather.

“Complying with the legislation about meeting only one other household outdoors at any one time and following the Scottish Government’s guidance about avoiding travelling long distances will stop our parks, beaches, lochs and hills from becoming overcrowded and help ensure appropriate physical distancing is maintained, reducing the spread of coronavirus.

“We want people to enjoy our outdoor spaces safely and our officers will be robustly tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities.”

Further changes will come in next week, with teachers and other staff allowed to re-enter schools from Monday to prepare for the proposed return of schools on August 11.

Recycling centres will be allowed to open once again from Monday.

Childminders and fully outdoor nurseries can start to reopen from Wednesday June 3, though there will be limits on the number of children that can be cared for.

Further guidance for childminders will be issued on Monday.

Also during phase one, some key public services such as respite care, children’s hearings and vital health programmes will begin to restart their work.

The Scottish Government said further announcements on timing will be made in due course.

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