Forever Edinburgh: City leaders welcome further easing of restrictions and announce continued support
Edinburgh City Council leaders have welcomed the further easing of restrictions as the Scottish government announced on Tuesday that most of Scotland will move to level two from next week.
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In the First Minister’s coronavirus briefing on May 11, it was confirmed that the spread of the virus was under control and the government’s route map out of lockdown was on track for the majority of the country.
This means that in Edinburgh, from Monday May 17, further changes to the number of people that can meet in groups in hospitality settings and an extension to opening hours could go ahead.
Events will also now be able to take place for up to 100 people in indoor settings and outdoor, up to 500 people seated or 250 people standing.
Business and other cultural venues will also be allowed to open from Monday including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, amusement arcades, casinos and bingo halls.
An update on the number of people that can meet in private homes and gardens was set out, increasing the number to six people from three households. It was also announced that it will no longer be necessary for physical distancing measure to be observed in these settings, which means hugging loved ones will be permitted.
Following the update Council and city leaders reaffirmed their commitment to continuing support for businesses to help them recover safely and sustainably.
Council leader, Adam McVey said: “This announcement is great news for our residents and businesses. The sacrifices we’ve had to make over the last year have protected our communities and meant we’re able to loosen restrictions safely - while we continue to suppress the virus and protect our NHS and frontline workers. It gives us further hope that we’re moving in the right direction thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, universal testing and making sure we’re still sticking to the guidelines.
“I know being able to hug our loved ones will mean the world to people and families across our city.
“We’re continuing to support these efforts while also doing all we can to help our businesses’ recovery with flexible outdoor seating arrangements and waiving permit fees for our hospitality sector and it’s great to hear all the positive feedback we’re getting from the business we’ve supported.
“We’re also looking to inspire and encourage our residents to get back out safely and enjoy all that our Capital has to offer through our Forever Edinburgh campaign’s The Story Never Ends and Shop Here This Year. Both initiatives are inspiring people to rediscover our city and share our experiences of the things we do and places we go to in enjoying all Edinburgh has to offer. Our city centre attractions, retailers and restaurants and cafes have done an amazing job making our city centre feel like the city centre again, and I hope as many people as possible will get behind our businesses and share their love for our Capital.”
Depute leader, Cammy Day, added: “We continue to listen to and work with businesses to help them bounce back as quickly as possible from what has been an incredibly tough year. We’re collaborating closely with organisations such as Essential Edinburgh, Edinburgh’s Tourism Action Group (ETAG), VisitScotland, the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses to ensure we’re working with the different sectors to understand where the pressure points are while inviting people back into our unique neighbourhoods, buzzing city centre and beautiful outdoor spaces. Edinburgh really does have something for everyone and we’re so excited to be able to share that once again.
“I also welcome the news that we will be able to invite more friends and family into our homes and gardens. After so long keeping our distance from those we love, giving them a well-deserved hug or simply holding a hand will be a very emotional moment for many. We still need to take care, though, so it’s crucial we all use our own careful judgement.”
Liz McAreavey, chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “The continued return to something closer to normality is highly encouraging, and we are delighted that the city’s hard-hit hospitality sector can once again welcome customers indoors and out. In particular, it is also pleasing to note the city council’s determination to promote the city centre, which has been hardest hit by the pandemic.
"The recovery of our city centre is vital to the economic, social and emotional recovery of the Capital. Edinburgh Chamber is keen to work with both the incoming Scottish government and the council to ensure together we achieve the fairest, most sustainable recovery as quickly as possible.”
Donald Emslie, chair of ETAG, added: “The latest easing of restrictions is very welcome news indeed for our tourism and hospitality businesses and marks another key milestone on the road to recovery. Businesses have worked extremely hard over the last few weeks and months and have invested lots of time and money to create safe and welcoming spaces for everyone.
“ETAG continue to work in partnership with the council, VisitScotland and others to support the Forever Edinburgh initiative and hope that through that we are able to encourage people to venture back out to meet with friends and family and to enjoy all that Edinburgh has to offer while supporting the sector through the reopening period.”