'Stay Local and behave' call as Covid-19 lockdown measures ease in time for Easter weekend
Council chiefs, senior police and the country’s leading health official have urged people to enjoy the easing of Covid-19 restrictions – but stick to the guidelines.
Beauty spots across Edinburgh and the Lothians are expected to be a magnet for revellers as schools break up and people look forward to the long Easter weekend.
Weather forecasters are predicting long spells of sunshine and mild temperatures through to Saturday, meaning thousands will to flock to parks and beauty spots around the Capital.
On Friday, Scotland's 'Stay at Home' advice changes to 'Stay Local’ meaning people can leave their homes for purposes other than work, exercise or to buy food, but there is still a restriction on non-essential travel to another area.
The Evening News has highlighted a string of incidents at the Meadows following illegal gatherings and antisocial behaviour, including on Tuesday evening when a crowd was dispersed by officers.
Council Leader Adam McVey said: “This Easter weekend is a great opportunity to meet up safely with friends and family, in line with the guidance. I know the vast majority of citizens will enjoy our fabulous open spaces responsibly.
“Sadly, some people don't always behave quite so considerately, so our sincere plea to everyone is to respect and care for our parks, beaches and greenspaces while you're visiting them. If there's no bin or the bin's full awaiting one of our regular patrols to empty it, please take your litter home with you.”
He added: “Remember the need to Stay Local, too – we can’t run the risk right now of the virus travelling between local authority areas
Chief Superintendent Sean Scott, Divisional Commander for Edinburgh, said: “While Easter weekend is traditionally a time for visiting friends and family, I would urge people to stay local and follow the regulations on gatherings.
“If you are visiting beauty spots within your local area, do so safely and respectfully – leaving no trace of your visit. Please also park responsibly to allow emergency access.
“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and encourage compliance, but we will not hesitate to use our enforcement powers as a last resort.
As well as the Stay Local change, other adjustments to the national Covid restrictions will see garden centres, hairdressers, car dealerships, click and collect retail services and homeware stores, among others, able to reopen from April 5.
But large gatherings over the Easter weekend could spark fresh Covid cases, the country chief medical officer has warned.
Dr Gregor Smith said: "There will be a huge temptation to make the most of it, particularly if we're blessed with some nice weather.
"However, with that comes a real risk to all the good progress we've made over the last few months.”