When is Scotland Freedom Day 2021? Date of Covid lockdown end after country moves to Level 0 restrictions
The Scottish Government hopes to scrap all remaining legal coronavirus lockdown restrictions in August, a few weeks after rules change in England
Many parts of the country are now in Level 0 or Level 1 Covid restrictions, whereas the vast majority of the central belt is in Level 2.
It was hoped that the whole of Scotland would move into the lowest level of rules on 28 June, but Nicola Sturgeon confirmed during her last major Holyrood update that the lifting of restrictions would be paused for three weeks.
But, in hopeful news for Scots, the First Minister suggested all remaining legal restrictions could be eased after that on so-called “Freedom Day” in August.
So, when is Freedom Day in Scotland - and when does the country move to Level 0?
Here is everything you need to know.
When is Freedom Day in Scotland?
Freedom Day is the name that has been given to the moment all remaining coronavirus restrictions are finally lifted.
While a move to Level 0 has been on the cards for Scotland for some time, the government had not previously given a date for when the rest of the rules could be eased, as Boris Johnson did for England.
But that changed recently, when Ms Sturgeon announced that, if all goes to plan, all remaining legal measures could be scrapped on 9 August.
At this point, the country could return to “almost complete normality”, she said.
However, this proposed date could be brought forward or pushed back depending on the pandemic situation in Scotland.
If the Covid vaccine continues to break the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths, and as more people are inoculated, it is possible that Freedom Day will go ahead then.
Some minor rules may remain, though, like people still being required to wear face coverings in some settings. The government will also not advise an immediate return to office working on 9 August, Ms Sturgeon said.
When will Scotland move to Level 0?
Scots won’t need to wait until August for further Covid restrictions to be eased, however.
It had previously been hoped that most of Scotland would move to Level 0 at the end of June, but the SNP leader said the current restrictions will remain in place until 19 July.
From then, it is expected that the areas of the country which are not already in Level 0 will move to the lowest grade of restrictions, allowing for the limits of household gatherings indoors to increase.
And it is hoped that the two metre social distancing rule will be reduced to one metre from that date if “the data supports this”, Ms Sturgeon said.
The delay to lockdown easing has allowed for more time to roll out the Covid vaccines.
Making her announcement in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said: "We hope that all parts of Scotland, not currently in that level, can move to Level 0 on 19 July.
"We also hope - assuming the data supports this - that the general indoor physical distancing requirement can be reduced from 2 metres to 1 metre.
"And we hope, from that date, to lift the outdoor requirement to physically distance.
"In addition we hope that limits on informal outdoor social gatherings, in private gardens for example, will also be removed at this stage."
What does Level 0 mean in Scotland?
As well as the lifting of some outdoor social distancing measures, the move to Level 0 will bring increased freedoms for Scots after many months of lockdowns.
This level is described as “nearly normal”, except from physical distancing rules, limits on numbers socialising and some hospitality restrictions.
In Level 0, 10 adults from four households are able to meet in cafes and pubs, while 15 adults from 15 households can meet outdoors.
Ceremonies, like weddings and funerals, can be attended by 200 people.
And the capacity for seated indoor events goes up to 400 people, while outside this is 1,000 at standing events and 2,000 at seated or open space events.
Night-time venues and adult entertainment venues will remain closed even in Level 0 except for use in “limited circumstances”.
And people will still be asked to work from home where they can, although there will be a limited phased return to offices.
All plans are subject to review and rely on the continued suppression of the virus and the success of the vaccinations rollout.
How will the rules differ to those in England?
Meanwhile, restrictions will differ between England and Scotland for a period as both countries emerge from lockdown at varying paces.
All legal restrictions are due to be lifted south of the border on 19 July, a few weeks before more rules change in Scotland.
That means, on the same date Scotland is expected to move to Level 0, the UK Government will scrap major rules, like mask-wearing, social distancing and caps on numbers gathering indoors and outdoors.
On Monday (5 July), Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed in a press briefing that the those in England must “live with Covid”.
From 19 July in England:
- There will be no limits on social contact, meaning the end of the orders such as the “rule of six” and restrictions on guests at weddings and mourners at funerals.
- All remaining businesses will be able to reopen, including nightclubs, while capacity caps will be lifted and bars and restaurants will no longer be restricted to table service.
- The government will no longer instruct people to work from home.
- The legal requirement to wear face coverings will be lifted, although guidance will suggest people might choose to do so in “enclosed and crowded places”.
- The “one metre plus” rule on social distancing will be lifted except in specific circumstances.