Coronavirus Scotland: Hugs allowed from Monday and restrictions on pubs, cinemas and indoor visiting lifted in Edinburgh as Nicola Sturgeon announces biggest covid easing for weeks
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that most of Scotland, including Edinburgh, will be moving down to Level 2 coronavirus restrictions from next week, which means that Scots will be able to hug their loved ones at last.
Speaking at a lunchtime coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon confirmed that most of mainland Scotland was on track and would be moving down to Level 2 of the coronavirus restrictions from Monday, May 17.
Ms Sturgeon said: “What we know from our recent run of daily statistics is that the success of the vaccination programme coupled with the continued compliance on the part of the general population with the various rules and restrictions that have been in place has ensured a continued suppression of the virus.
However, she said that due to the coronavirus outbreak currently being dealt with in Moray – where case rates are more than four times national average – the area is unlikely to join the rest of the country in moving down to Level 2, though a final decision will be made at the end of this week.
If the decision is made to keep Moray at Level 3, it is likely that travel restrictions will be implemented in and out of the area.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The situation in Moray, and the emergence of new variants globally should be a sharp reminder to all of us that the virus remains a very real threat, not just here in Scotland, but of course, across the world.”
Ms Sturgeon also added that from Monday, the island communities in Scotland will be able to move down to level one following a consistently low transmission rate.
When making this decision, the government took into consideration that many of the islands have “very good vaccination coverage”, and that lateral flow tests are available to anyone who travels from mainland Scotland which would prevent further transmission.
The biggest news shared by the First Minister on Tuesday was that people across the majority of Scotland are going to be allowed to hug their loved ones again.
The new guidance says that it is not necessary to maintain physical-distancing in homes and gardens, therefore you are allowed to hug from May 17.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I actually feel a wee bit emotional saying this, but from Monday – as long as you stay within the permitted limits – you can hug your loved ones again.”
In Level 2 up to six people from three households can socialise indoors in a private home. This is an updated relaxation as it was expected that from Monday just four people from two households would be able to meet indoors.
Eight people from up to eight households will also be allowed to meet outdoors.
Additionally restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars can open indoors until 10:30pm, serving alcohol, with two hour pre-booked slots.
Cinemas, theatres, comedy clubs, amusement arcades and bingo halls can open as well.
There is still a limit of 50 people gathering for weddings and funerals, Ms Sturgeon said that they would “judge when it is safe” to update these further.
There are a number of places which are not permitted to reopen in Level 2 according to the Scottish government website, including: Soft play, funfairs, indoor bowling, snooker/pool halls and nightclubs.