- 16 March 2021
lifting the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement and replacing it with a ‘Stay Local’ message (retaining the current, Local Authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period)
We will continue to monitor closely this encouraging data. Assuming that all goes well, our next significant milestone for easing restrictions will be 5 April, when we plan to ease a wider range of current restrictions in level 4 areas,2 including:
- the resumption of outdoor contact sport for 12-17 year olds
- return of college students within the top three priority groups identified by Colleges Scotland as most likely not to complete this academic year (estimated as 29% of learners)
- reopening of non-essential ‘click and collect’ retail
- extending the list of retail permitted to include:
- garden centres (indoor and outdoor)
- key cutting shops
- mobility equipment shops
- baby equipment shops
- electrical repair shops
- hairdressers and barbers (with shopfronts – not mobile services), by appointment only
- homeware shops
- vehicle showrooms (appointment only) and forecourts
12/19 April, depending on term times
All children back to school full-time.
Subject to supply by mid-April, we plan to have offered the vaccine to priority vaccine groups 1-9, based on the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation advice for protecting the most vulnerable in our population. Assuming the data allows it, we expect a more significant reopening of the economy and society from 26 April. This will likely include the following easings:3
- extending outdoor socialising to permit up to 6 people from up to 3 households to gather
- allowing 12-17 year olds to meet outdoors in groups of 6 from up to 6 households
- travel within all of mainland Scotland permitted (subject to other restrictions that remain in place)
- remaining shops can reopen and mobile close contact services can resume
- gyms can reopen for individual exercise
- tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering accommodation to be restricted in line with rules on indoor gathering)
- work in people’s homes to resume
- driving lessons to resume
- weddings and funerals for up to 50 (including wakes and receptions with no alcohol permitted)
- libraries, museums, galleries re-open
- outdoor hospitality to open till 22:00 with alcohol permitted. Indoor hospitality permitted without alcohol and closing at 20:00
- social mixing in indoor public places will be subject to current maximum of 4 people from up to 2 households
- The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.
Three weeks on from the publication of the last update, and given the progress with the vaccination programme and what we have learned about its impact on reducing transmission of the virus, we are now in a position to add a new indicative date for further easing of restrictions. From 17 May we hope to introduce the following easings:
- re-introducing in-home socialising for up to 4 people from up to 2 households
- further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 22:30 indoors with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited slots and until 22:00 outdoors with alcohol permitted
- adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
- cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open
Small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints.
colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
more in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors
We know that the coronavirus is unpredictable and is adept at mutating in order to survive. It is also vital that we allow enough time between different sets of easings to assess what effect they have had on the R number and other virus indicators. For that reason, it is too early now to give specific dates beyond May. However, we understand the need for people and businesses to plan and so, to give a broad sense of likely timings, from the start of June, we would aim for Scotland to move back to Level 1. This will allow further relaxation across all areas of the economy and society, while still applying physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions and the FACTS guidance. From the end of June, we hope that we will be able to move to Level 0.
We must also be prepared to pause if the data shows that the virus is spreading again. We will act decisively to reapply higher levels of restrictions to manage localised outbreaks should the need arise. This could be on a local or regional basis, depending on the nature of the outbreak. However, we will not leave any restrictions in place for any longer than they are necessary to meet our responsibility to safeguard the people of Scotland.
Support to Business
Our collective response has required us to take some difficult decisions to deal with the public health risk, which we recognise has been extremely challenging for businesses and the economy as a whole. We also recognise the efforts that businesses have made to ensure that they are operating in a way which minimises the risk from the virus when they have been able to open. As we move slowly and carefully towards reopening parts of the economy, we will continue to work with sector bodies and business organisations to ensure that guidance is developed collaboratively. We recognise that some sectors will still be restricted even at Levels 0 and 1, particularly while physical social distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as face coverings, are in place. So, we will continue to talk to business and other sectors about the contents of Levels 0, 1 and 2, for example the size of gatherings allowed at sporting and cultural events and in places of worship. We will also continue to review and consider the need for physical social distancing and other interventions.. We hope to be able to relax the current restrictions further as the data allows.
We recognise the financial challenges that have faced businesses this last year and hope that these changes will pave the way for thousands of businesses across Scotland starting the journey back to normality. In February we said that we would maintain and build on the Strategic Framework Business Fund (SFBF) and the £120 million Local Authority Discretionary Fund beyond 31 March and of course our plans for business support have been closely aligned with the wider changes. Recognising the importance of front-loading that support to help businesses prepare to reopen, we will:
- on 22 March, make one final four-weekly payment of the SFBF, with no new claims permitted;
- on 19 April, automatically give all SFBF recipients a combined two-week supplement and a one-off restart grant: up to £7,500 for eligible retail premises; and up to £19,500 for eligible hospitality and leisure
The infrastructure for the SFBF will be retained and used as required in future for business support linked to any local outbreaks.
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