Easing relaxed as expected

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There were no real surprises when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed yesterday that restrictions will be be eased from Monday. Mainland Scotland will move from Level 3 to Level 2 –  and alcohol will be able to be served inside hospitality premises, with a curfew of 10.30pm with a 2-hour dwell time suggested.

Now up to eight people from eight households will be able to meet outdoors in hospitality while six people from three households will be able to meet indoors in pub,  restaurants and hotels. But there are to be no changes to social distancing rules, which have been removed in personal settings such as gardens and in homes.

Events will resume with a maximum capacity of 100 people indoors, 250 outdoors where there is unrestricted standing and 500 for events with seating. Organisers will be allowed to apply to hold bigger events.

Moray the First Minister stated would likely remain in Level 3 due to increased transmission and cases, and she raised the possibility of a travel ban in that area.

And the islands are moving to Level 1 – excluding Skye.

The CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) Emma McClarkin said,

“This is an expected but very much welcomed announced from the First Minister. Since a partial reopening on 26 April, Scotland’s pubs and bars which could utilise outdoor spaces have given it a real go, but ultimately the weather and the restriction to alcohol service indoors has made trading viably a real difficulty. The recommencement of indoor service from Monday will give a real boost to the country’s hospitality sector and operators are looking forward to welcoming customers back again safely.

“A full start to the recovery is still some way off for our sector though, with the ongoing curfew having a devastating impact on many premises. The First Minister must look at removing the curfew as soon as possible, and at the very least, in time for the country moving to Level 1 in early June. With no further economic support and trading extremely difficult, we run the risk of businesses failing just before the recovery begins.”

Marc Crothall, CEO Scottish Tourism Alliance said, “The First Minister’s announcement today that mainland Scotland, with the possible exception of Moray, will move to level 2 on Monday will be a welcome boost for our tourism sector, particularly businesses in our island communities which I know will be delighted at the news that they will move to Level 1, albeit with the capacity restrictions on ferries limiting the number of people who can travel there.

“The return of indoor hospitality with alcohol will allow our hospitality businesses to hopefully start to recoup some of the significant losses incurred by being able to offer the very essence of the experience that has been missing for so long and to trade more viably despite the physical distancing restrictions which remain in place, however, I am sure that many will be heartened to learn today that this is currently under review and that the conclusions will be shared at the next review point.

“Good news also for events, particularly for event organisers who will be able to apply to host more than a hundred people.  Our events sector has been decimated over the last year with limited information or support in relation to opening up and guidance for doing so; it’s extremely encouraging to know that the ball is finally rolling for such an important sector within our industry.  I know both customers and operators will be waiting to see what can be delivered; hosting the types of events many will want to enjoy in a viable way will however be dependent on social distancing measures being relaxed.”

The new rules, which come into effect on Monday 17 May, will apply to all mainland local authority areas with the exception of Moray. A final decision on this will be made at the end of this week.

From 17 May, anyone entering Scotland from countries on a new international travel ‘Green List’ will not be required to quarantine on arrival, but will have to take a PCR test for COVID-19. The Green List will initially be the same as that in place for England but will be subject to review based on Scotland’s specific needs.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “The success of the vaccination programme, and continued high compliance with the various rules and restrictions, means that we have seen continued suppression of the virus in the last three weeks. As a result the situation overall is a very positive one, and we are now in a position to relax more restrictions and restore much more normality to our everyday lives.”

She also urged people to use the new app – Check in Scotland – which was launched at the end of April, to help Test and Protect easily contact people who need to self isolate.

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