Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Easing of lockdown delayed across Scotland as Indian variant spreads

Nicola Sturgeon has delayed lifting lockdown restrictions for most of Scotland due to a surge in Covid cases.

Some parts of the country will move to Level 1 of the Scottish Government’s Covid route map from Saturday but the majority of its central belt will remain in Level 2.

Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the three Ayrshire areas, North and South Lanarkshire and Clackmannanshire and Stirling will all be kept under tighter restrictions.

However, Glasgow city, which was kept in Level 3 when measures eased in the rest of the country on May 17, will move to Level 2 from midnight on Friday.

This means that Glaswegians will be able to meet up in homes with friends and family, drink alcohol in pubs and restaurants, and travel out of the city.

Ms Sturgeon said the outbreak there had stabilised with case numbers falling slightly – but urged people to remain cautious as infection rates remain high.

Under the government’s route map, MSPs had planned to move Scotland into Level 1 from Monday June 7.

The first minister told MSPs on Tuesday that the move to keep most areas in Level 2 was just a ‘slight slow down of easing’ rules to allow more people to get vaccinated amid rising rates of the Indian variant.

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She said: ‘It is important to stress that this is a pause, not a step backwards. And Level 2 is not lockdown.’

‘And taking a cautious approach now – while more people get fully vaccinated – gives us the best chance of staying on the right track overall,’ the first minister added.

Under Level 2 restrictions, six people from three households can meet up inside homes and stay overnight, while hospitality venues are allowed to serve alcohol indoors.

Those moving to Level 1 areas will be able to meet outside and indoors in public places in larger groups.

Numbers at events, weddings and funerals can also increase, and pubs can open slightly later indoors.

Scotland currently has the highest rate of new cases of Covid-19 of the four nations of the UK.

But Ms Sturgeon said there are ‘many parts of mainland Scotland where cases are at very low levels and broadly stable or where case numbers might appear to be rising, but we are assured that they relate to clusters that are being managed’.

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