Scotland is to delay its lifting of Covid restrictions by three weeks, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The country’s mainland areas will now not move to level zero – the lowest level of restrictions – until July 19, with the aim to remove all legal coronavirus rules in early August, Sturgeon said.
The delay will allow more time for people to be vaccinated and would mean life in Scotland to return to ‘almost complete normality’ by August.
Some minor changes will be brought in sooner however – including removing staff and suppliers of wedding services from the cap on numbers at services from Monday and allowing live entertainment at receptions, and allowing people from more than one household to help carry a coffin at a funeral.
Responding to the First Minister’s Statement, UKHospitality Scotland executive director, Leon Thompson, said business support was ‘completely absent’ from the First Minister’s statement, which is ‘vital’ for survival.
He said: “Whilst the delay in moving to Level 0 was expected, businesses have simply been placed in limbo and will need to wait weeks for the changes they desperately need. With no movement until at least 19 July, the summer season has been shortened for many, with businesses and employees facing continuing uncertainty.
“The announcement of the publication of the physical distancing review and the steps after Level 0 will need scrutiny as no information on these was shared prior to today. The indicative date of 9 August for a further move to normality will seem a long time away for many businesses struggling with debt and restrictions are likely to still remain at that point.”
The government’s original route map out of lockdown would have seen the whole of Scotland move to level zero on June 28.
Island communities such as Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are already in level zero, with all mainland areas in level one or level two of the country’s five-tier system of restrictions.