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Scotland moves to Level 0 of coronavirus restrictions, but caution urged

Friends Poppy (left) and Shannon, both aged 20 and from Glasgow, head towards the departure gate at Glasgow Airport after checking in for their flight to Ibiza. Pic by Jane Barlow

By PA Scotland Reporters

All of Scotland has dropped to the lowest level of its five-tier system of coronavirus measures – but there is no “wholesale abandoning” of restrictions, Nicola Sturgeon said.

Face coverings in shops and public transport will remain mandatory for “some time to come”, while social distancing will reduce to one metre inside public places as the shift to Level 0 kicks in, the First Minister said.

Ms Sturgeon has also warned that so-called Freedom Day on Monday applies to England only, tweeting: “As this chart shows, cases in (Scotland) are falling, but still too high.”

She added that to talk of “‘freedom day’ (England only remember) is not sensible IMO, given current situation”.

“Vaccines going well and do offer route through – but as we vaccinate, we must ease up gradually,” she said.

On Monday, she added on Twitter: “Today in (Scotland) there is a further gradual easing of Covid restrictions – but not a wholesale abandoning of restrictions.

“Please continue to stick to limits on gatherings, observe appropriate distance, wear face coverings, ventilate rooms and wash hands.”

As of Sunday, all adults who attended a scheduled appointment will have had their first dose of coronavirus vaccine, said the Scottish Government.

It is expected that all adults in the country will have had their second jab by Sunday September 12.

Changes in Scotland include the easing of indoor gathering restrictions in homes to allow up to eight people from up to four households to meet, while a group of up to 10 can meet inside a pub or restaurant.

Meanwhile, “informal social gatherings” of up to 15 people from 15 households will be permitted outdoors, with one metre social distancing in place between those not part of the same group of family and friends.

Elsewhere, up to 200 people can now gather at weddings and funerals and hospitality venues can stay open until midnight if they are licensed to do so, extended from the current curfew of 10pm.

Customers will no longer need to pre-book a two-hour slot, but must still provide contact details for Test and Protect.

Ms Sturgeon has said that, despite restrictions being eased on Monday, “we are not abandoning them”.

She said: “If we do all of this, frustrating though it all continues increasingly to be, we will help protect ourselves and our loved ones.

“As we continue to complete the vaccination programme, which does offer us still the route back to greater normality, we will make it easier for more restrictions to be gradually and sensibly lifted in the weeks ahead.

“There is no doubt that Delta has become, unfortunately, something of a game-changer – even for countries on course to achieving full vaccine protection – so Covid does remain a threat that we must treat seriously.”

She said she understands the “temptation to lift more restrictions more quickly” but emphasised a “gradual approach stands the best chance of minimising further health harm and loss of life”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Because a gradual approach stands the best chance of being a sustainable approach, it will be better in the long term for the economy as well.”

Other changes on Monday include easing of travel restrictions, with those who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine no longer having to self-isolate on return from an amber list country.

But those without both jabs who are coming back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca will still have to self-isolate after Spain’s Balearic Islands were added to the amber list from Monday.

Passengers on the first flight from Glasgow to the Balearics expressed few concerns about quarantining.

Jacqui Sutherland, who travelled out on the 7.15am Jet2 flight, told the PA news agency: “We booked when it was on the green (list) and then we did kind of wonder what to do when it moved to amber.

“But because we’re double-vaccinated we don’t have to quarantine.”

However, friends Poppy and Shannon, both 20, were on the same flight and facing the prospect of quarantining when they return next week.

Shannon said: “With all the right information we’ve been totally fine to just book it – there’s always safe ways to go about it.

“We’ve been waiting two years and had Ibiza booked twice so we’re finally getting to go away.”

Poppy added: “I’m not even caring, I just want to be in the sun.”

August 9 has been set as an indicative date for when all main coronavirus restrictions will be lifted in Scotland, but ministers have set out an ongoing need for face masks and other basic measures to continue.

Scotland’s national clinical director has suggested that sports stadiums could be full as early as August 10.

Professor Jason Leitch indicated last month that the planned end of social distancing rules will allow large-scale events such as concerts, festivals and sporting fixtures to go ahead.

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