Nicola Sturgeon update: everything FM said during Scotland lockdown review today - and which changes will go ahead?

The First Minister updated the Scottish Parliament on the roadmap out of lockdown one year since the first Covid restrictions were introduced

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 3:02 pm

Nicola Sturgeon updated the Scottish Parliament on the next steps in the country’s exit from lockdown - one year since the first national Covid measures were introduced.

Addressing MSPs on Tuesday 23 March, the First Minister paid tribute to those who have lost their lives during the pandemic and thanked Scots for the sacrifices they have made throughout.

“I want to reflect on the anxiety, isolation, loss and grief that have marked the last 12 months, but I also want to acknowledge the compassion, solidarity and love that has brought hope and light to these darkest of times,” she said.

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Nicola Sturgeon will address whether the planned re-opening of some parts of Scotland’s economy can go ahead (PA Media)

Ms Sturgeon’s coronavirus statement in Holyrood - which is her final one before Parliament rises for the upcoming election - follows the minute’s silence which was observed across Scotland during the National Day of Reflection to remember those who died.

Here is everything Nicola Sturgeon announced.

What did the First Minister say?

As well as reflecting on the past year of the pandemic, Ms Sturgeon addressed whether the planned re-opening of some parts of Scotland’s economy will go ahead.

During her update last week, she announced proposed dates for a roadmap out of lockdown in April and May, including for hairdressers, hospitality venues and non-essential shops.

She also revealed that the “stay at home” order would be lifted on 2 April and replaced by guidance to “stay local”.

It is hoped that the easing of major restrictions will happen in three-week periods, starting on 5 April, then 26 April and then 17 May.

Areas in Scotland are expected to move back into a local levels system similar to the one which was in place before the lockdown from 26 April.

But the easing of restrictions will depend on continued progress in suppressing the virus and the vaccines rollout.

Ms Sturgeon warned: “Although we can now see a route out of lockdown, difficult judgements remain.”

Today, she confirmed the changes that will go ahead in the coming days and weeks:

Collective worship

From Friday 26 March, collective worship will be permitted for groups of up to 50.

That is subject to premises being able to support such large gatherings with appropriate social distancing.

“That is an important change - and I hope that it will be especially welcomed as we head towards important religious festivals over the next few weeks,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Western Isles

Ms Sturgeon announced that from 6pm on Wednesday 24 March, the Western Isles will move from Level 4 restrictions to Level 3 due to falling infection rates.

That is the same local protection level that applies to some of Scotland’s other islands, such as Orkney and Shetland.

Reopening of economy

The changes to lockdown and the reopening of the economy as previously announced by the First Minister will hopefully go ahead during April, she said.

From 5 April, the aim is for a phased reopening of non-essential retail to begin, including click and collect services, homeware stores, car showrooms and forecourts.

Garden centres may also be able to reopen from this date, along with hairdressers and barber salons.

Following that, other restrictions are planned to be lifted on 26 April, including the full reopening of shops and the return of the hospitality industry.

Also on this date, travel restrictions on the mainland are also expected to come to an end.


The government is aiming for all secondary school children to return to classrooms full-time following the Easter holidays.

On Monday 15 March primaries four to seven returned to school on a full time basis, and from the same date there was a phased return of secondary school pupils.

All high school students began face-to-face lessons on a part time basis, but many will continue to do some learning at home until after Easter.