Scotland sees Covid restrictions ease despite record infection levels
Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland are being eased today – despite infection levels said to be at record highs.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed last week that from Monday businesses such as bars and restaurants are no longer required to retain customer contact details.
The legal requirement for businesses, places of worship and others to “take reasonably practicable measures” set out in Scottish Government coronavirus guidance is also being ended.
The move comes in the wake of figures from the Office for National Statistics showing levels of Covid infection in Scotland have hit another record high.
They have now risen for seven weeks in a row, with 376,300 people likely to have had the virus last week – or one in 14 – up from one in 18 people the previous week.
The surge in infections prompted the First Minister to row back on plans to scrap the legal requirement to wear face coverings on public transport and other indoor settings.
This had been due to be converted to guidance – with the situation to be reviewed early in April.
However, with the other restrictions being eased Labour called for action to help the economy.
The party wants adults to be given high street vouchers to get people spending again – but also says there should be a public information campaign so that people can be confident about the return to public places.
Holyrood finance spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “Businesses across Scotland will breathe a sigh of relief as restrictions are lifted today – but there is no room for complacency.
“The challenges facing Scotland’s economy didn’t start with Covid and they won’t end today.
“The cost of living crisis will pile added pressure on to businesses, as people cut costs to try and make ends meet, but once again the SNP and the Tory governments are failing to get to grips with the challenge.
“We need real action to get our economy moving again and undo the lasting damage done to our high streets by both the pandemic and by 15 years of SNP mismanagement.
“This means clearer communication and more ambition from the SNP government. Without these we are going to see our vibrant and important towns and cities decline.
“We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to build a stronger economy and get our high streets thriving again.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said ministers had “just published an ambitious plan that sets out how we can transform Scotland’s economy” with this featuring “a ruthless focus on working with business and industry to deliver the changes we want to see”.
She added: “We are all too aware of the impact the Covid pandemic has had – and continues to have – on retailers, high streets and on the economy. That is why, since the start of the pandemic, businesses have benefited from more than £4.5 billion in support.
“We are taking action to help retailers and communities recover – not least through our £80 million Economic Recovery Fund and the forthcoming Retail Strategy.”
“We will also listen carefully to any constructive suggestions on what further steps we might take.”