The Scottish Government's four-phase lockdown easing route map explained

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Scotland's First Minister today unveiled the details of a four-phase 'route map' for easing the nation's lockdown restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon said the first phase of the process would start on May 28th.

She said progress will be assessed every three weeks and further phases will be introduced if it is deemed safe to do so, with the phases “not set in stone.”

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Nicola Sturgeon publishes 'route map' for Scotland to leave lockdown
Nicola Sturgeon outlined her four-phase lockdown easing plan today.Nicola Sturgeon outlined her four-phase lockdown easing plan today.
Nicola Sturgeon outlined her four-phase lockdown easing plan today. | Other 3rd Party

Some of the easing measures introduced in Scotland were brought in south of the border last week - but lockdown easing in Scotland happened later because the rate at which the virus was spreading was still too high.

The country's 'stay at home' rule will stay in place until the first phase of lockdown easing begins next Thursday.

First Phase – Limited contact with other household

Ms Sturgeon says this will involve people from two different households being allowed to meet up outdoors, including in gardens, while maintaining a two metre social distance. Public gatherings are not allowed at this stage.

She said people will be able to sit in parks and sunbathe in certain areas and more outdoor activities will be allowed such as golf, bowls, fishing, canoeing, hiking and outdoor swimming. People will be allowed to travel, preferably by walking or cycling, in their local community (within five miles) for recreation.

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Schools will reopen to pupils on August 11th but children will return to a 'blended' model - part-time in school and part-time home learning. Teachers and other school staff will return in June to prepare classrooms for the new term.

Waste and recycling services will resume and outdoor businesses like agriculture and forestry will be allowed while maintaining physical distancing, along with construction through a phased plan in consultation with the Scottish Government.

For businesses that will be able to reopen in line with phase one, employers are encouraged to stagger start times and allow flexible working.

The government will no longer discourage takeaway and drive-through outlets from opening and garden centres will also reopen.

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The re-opening of court and tribunal buildings, with limited business and public access, is also part of the plan and the government also hopes for a safe reopening of the housing market.

Face-to-face children's hearings and greater contact for social work and support services with at-risk groups and families will also be part of the first phase, with access to respite and day care to support unpaid carers and families with a disabled family member.

The government also expects to restart NHS services, covering primary and community services including mental health. Covid-free GP services will be retained with a further scale-up of digital consultations.

Community pharmacy services will be rolled out and increased care will be offered at emergency dental hubs as practices prepare to open. The government will also restart, where possible, urgent electives and there will be a resumption of IVF treatment as soon as deemed safe to do so.

Phase Two – Pubs and restaurants open outdoor spaces

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People will be able to meet with larger groups including family and friends outside with physical distancing. Meeting people from another household indoors with physical distancing and hygiene measures could also be possible. Driving locally for leisure purposes will also be allowed.

Pubs and restaurants can open outdoor spaces with physical distancing and playgrounds and sports courts could reopen.

Outdoor markets could reopen with social distancing and controls on the number of people allowed in.

Non-essential indoor, non-office based workplaces like factories, warehouses and lab and research facilities can resume with physical distancing, once the relevant guidance is agreed. The construction sector would now be able to implement the remaining stages of its phased return.

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Public transport will operate increased services but capacity will remain limited to enable social distancing. Travel at peak times will be discouraged.

Families should also be able to visit care homes in a managed way where it is deemed clinically safe to do so.

All dental practices are expected to open for patients with urgent care needs.

Health boards will start remobilising to cope with a backlog of demand, urgent referrals and some routine services. Chronic disease management could also be introduced, including pain and diabetic services.

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Marriages and civil partnerships and some other types of ceremonies will be allowed to take place with a minimal number of people attending.

Places of worship will open for private prayer under physical distancing rules and hygiene safeguards.

Phase Three – ‘closer to normal’, children return to school

The report which sets out the lockdown easing plan says phase three will “begin to feel closer to normal. The virus should be suppressed by this point with ‘test and protect’ working across Scotland to the extent the Scottish Government should know where additional resources will be required.

People will be able to meet up in extended groups outdoors and meet with people from more than one household indoors, subject to physical distancing.

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The public will also be able to drive beyond their local area for leisure and exercise purposes, while public transport will also be limited to enable distancing.

In this phase, children will return to school under the model of part time in school teaching and part time learning at home. All childcare providers could be reopened by this point, subject to public health measures, with available capacity prioritised to support key worker childcare, early learning and childcare entitlement and children in need.

Universities and colleges will have a phased return with remote learning and limited learning on campus.

Working from home will remain the default position but more indoor businesses, including the likes of call centres, could reopen in line with relevant guidance.

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Larger retailers could reopen and pubs and restaurants could open in indoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines.

Personal retail services, including hairdressers, will reopen with social distancing and increased hygiene.

Museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas and gyms can reopen subject to physical distancing and hygiene measures.

There could also be a relaxation of restrictions on hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday homes.

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Live events could be allowed with restricted numbers and social distancing restrictions.

Restrictions on attending funerals will also be relaxed, with marrages and civil partnerships extended to beyond 'close family.'

Places of worship will be open to extended groups subject to physical distancing and hygiene safeguards.

There will be a further expansion of screening services and emergency and planned care services, with adult flu vaccinations taking place in care homes and care at home. Some routine care dental patients will also start coming back.

Phase Four – All shops should open

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The Scottish Government report says, by this point, the virus should be suppressed to low levels and there is some hope that a vaccine may have been developed – but society should remain “safety conscious.”

All shops should be open by this point with local shopping still being encouraged.

Further relaxing of restrictions on gatherings should be allowed, and public transport could begin operating a full service but physical distancing may remain.

All workplaces should be open with improved hygiene, in line with public health advice, but remote and flexible working will still be encouraged.

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Schools and childcare provision should be operating with any necessary precautions in place.

Public services should be operating fully with changes to service design, including more use of digital services where appropriate.

Further restrictions on live events could be eased in line with public health advice.