NICOLA Sturgeon has warned that localised restrictions and travel bans could return to Scotland “if necessary” to control the outbreak when “beyond Level 0”.
Speaking at a recalled session of the Scottish Parliament yesterday, the First Minister confirmed most of Scotland’s remaining coronavirus restrictions are to be scrapped from Monday, in what she hailed as “perhaps the most significant date so far” in the pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon said that from August 9 Scotland would move “beyond Level 0”, with the removal of most restrictions being made possible thanks to the “steady decline in cases” and the “success of vaccination”.
Most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions, including those on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings, will be lifted.
Scotland will move beyond level 0 on Monday 9 August.
Legal requirements being lifted include physical distancing measures and limits on gatherings.
Watch FM @NicolaSturgeon explain the protective measures which will remain in place ⬇️
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) August 3, 2021
However, events with more than 2,000 people indoors, or more than 5,000 outside, will need to apply for permission before they can take place.
Meanwhile from Monday no venues will be legally required to be closed – allowing nightclubs to finally open their doors again for the first time since March 2020.
But Ms Sturgeon told Scots the legal requirement to wear face masks will remain for “some time to come” as she also said the Scottish Government would “continue to advise home working where possible”.
She warned that “care and caution” will be required as we make the move towards further normality – including the potential for local lockdowns and travel bans.
She told MSPs: “We will continue to work closely with local incident management teams on appropriate outbreak control measures, including the use of localised restrictions in future if necessary.
“We will also continue to use travel restrictions, as and when necessary, to restrict the spread of outbreaks and protect against the risk of importation of new variants.”
While she said the latest changes would “restore a substantial degree of normality”, the First Minister was also clear that Monday “does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck”.
She stated: “Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is premature.”
While she said Monday was “perhaps the most significant date so far” in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon was adamant: “I am not going to shout freedom from this virus, because I think it misleads people, the virus is circulating, the risk of new variants is there.”
She also made clear coronavirus restrictions could have to be reimposed, warning the winter period “may well pose challenges for us”.
Her comments came as Scotland recorded a further 1,016 new cases of the virus and another nine deaths in the past 24 hours.
The latest daily figures also showed 406 people in hospital on Tuesday with recently confirmed Covid, with 61 patients in intensive care.