Now is the right time for a gradual easing of restrictions, Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said, as the country moves to Level 0.
Mr Yousaf was speaking after having his second dose of the Covid vaccination, receiving a Pfizer jab at Glasgow Central Mosque on Monday.
All of Scotland has now dropped to the lowest level of its five-tier system of coronavirus measures, though face coverings in shops and on public transport will remain mandatory for some time to come.
Scotland has recorded 1,464 new coronavirus cases but no further deaths in the past 24 hours, while 536 people were in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19, 45 of them in intensive care.
Asked whether now was the right time to ease restrictions, Mr Yousaf told the PA news agency: “It’s the right time for a gradual easing of restrictions and that’s what we’re doing.
“Restrictions are still in place so there’s limits on the number of people that can gather for example, there’s limits on physical distancing in public spaces, there’s of course still the mandatory obligation to wear face coverings in certain settings as well.
“So we still have restrictions in place, I think that’s really, really important to emphasise, so people should enjoy the easing of restrictions but they should still familiarise themselves with the restrictions that are in place in Level 0.”
Mr Yousaf also said he is quite confident that restrictions can be eased further on August 9.
He said: “I’m quite confident we will be able to progress forward. I won’t pre-empt what the First Minister has to say at the beginning of August, we will look at the data week by week, but things are progressing in the right way, our trajectory of positive cases is going down.
“Hospitalisation is still far too high but beginning to show signs in the last few days of some stabilisation too, so I’m confident that we will be able to move beyond Level 0, I would hope on August 9, but we will continue to look at the data day by day, week by week.”
Mr Yousaf said he was feeling “great” after receiving his second vaccination and urged other people to come forward for their first or second jab.
He said that it is clear that as the vaccination programme goes down through the age cohorts, the uptake begins to decrease.
He said health authorities will have to work really hard to get more young people vaccinated and that mobile vaccination facilities will be going to places such as shopping centres and student campuses to reach more young people.
Mr Yousaf also urged people to “exercise caution” if visiting England, where coronavirus restrictions were lifted on Monday, and said that he would still wear a face covering if travelling to England on Tuesday.
So far 3,981,950 people in Scotland have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 2,978,746 have received their second dose.