Coronavirus restrictions to be eased for majority of Scots
Cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers will be able to reopen in many areas of Scotland from Friday and Saturday as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday that no area of Scotland will remain in Level 4 when changes come into force later this week.
The toughest tier of restrictions was imposed on 11 Scottish council areas – including Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Stirling – on November 20.
They will now all move down to Level 3.
Non-essential shops in these areas will be able to reopen from 6am on Friday. The rest of the changes will come into affect from 6pm that day.
Hospitality businesses in Level 3 areas must close their doors by 6pm, meaning they will have to wait until Saturday to welcome back customers for food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that 33 coronavirus deaths and 692 positive tests have been recorded in the past 24 hours.
She said the first vaccinations against Covid-19 on Tuesday morning mean “we may now be at the beginning of the end of this pandemic”.
While she said the prevalence of the virus has “fallen significantly” in all 11 areas in west and central Scotland in Level 4, she warned against complacency.
“In reaching decisions today, we have had to consider the potential overall impact of moving to a lower level of restrictions at the same time as the Christmas period begins in earnest,” she said.
“That has led us to a proportionate but still cautious set of conclusions.”
Five other council areas in Scotland will have restrictions eased later this week, the First Minister said.
Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus will move from Level 3 to Level 2, while Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders will move to Level 1.
All other council areas will remain in their current levels.
The First Minister told MSPs moving Edinburgh to Level 2 was considered but the proximity to Christmas quashed that decision. This position will be reassessed next week.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will also remain in Level 2, with cases having fallen in the past week.
Current travel restrictions across Scotland will remain in place, with the First Minster saying these “continue to be a vital part of keeping the country safe with a targeted and proportionate approach to restrictions”.
She said: “Nobody in a Level 3 area, or until Friday a Level 4 area, should travel outside their local authority area, except for very specific purposes.
“And no-one should travel into level 3 or 4 areas unless for essential purposes.
“I am afraid that means, for example, that people from outside Glasgow must not travel there to do Christmas shopping when retail opens on Friday.”
The First Minister also said further business support in Scotland will be announced on Wednesday.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes will lay out support to Parliament as businesses across the country are forced to remain closed due to restrictions.
Consideration will also be given by Scottish ministers to changing the content of levels being enforced, with particular focus on the opening of hospitality businesses.