More normality if progress continues
The whole of Scotland will move to level zero on 19 July if all necessary vaccination and harm reduction measures are met.
Current levels will remain in place for the next three weeks with a review taking place on 13 July although some changes, such as minor relaxations to rules on events such as weddings and funerals, will come into place on 28 June.
During a statement to Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that from 19 July physical distancing outdoors will be removed and physical distancing for indoor public areas will reduce to one metre if the data allows.
Limits on outdoor gatherings will also be removed on this date given the reduced risk of outdoor transmission at this stage in the vaccination programme.
If the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue to be met, all major remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted on 9 August.
The next review of restrictions will be on 13 July ahead of proposed changes commencing on 19 July.
Scottish Government is in the process of updating the tourism and hospitality guidance to ensure that there is information related to recent announcements for businesses. In the meantime, there’s a lot to absorb and there are critical updates for the tourism and accommodation sector, particularly on the question of different households sharing bedrooms. In this article, read more on:
From 28 June
- suppliers and others employed at a wedding will no longer count towards the cap on attendance
- A bride, groom and other designated persons accompanying them no longer require wearing face-coverings when walking down the aisle
- live entertainment will be permitted at weddings
- more than one household will be permitted to carry the coffin and/or take a cord at a funeral crematoriums and churches can relay funeral services to outside areas
From 19 July
- celebrations of life events such as christenings, bar mitzvahs and anniversaries will be permitted to take place under similar guidelines as weddings and funerals
- different households will be able to share a bedroom in tourist accommodation
Some measures are expected to continue beyond level zero including:
- good hand hygiene and surface cleaning
- continued promotion of good ventilation
- a requirement for face coverings in certain settings (e.g. public transport and retail)
- continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary
- an ongoing need for outbreak management capability, including active surveillance
- a greater degree of working from home than pre COVID-19 where this is possible and appropriate based on business and employee choice
In summary, following the physical distancing review, a pathway to easing and then removing the current physical distancing requirements has been set out. It will follow a staged process of easing of restrictions, focusing on the less risky outdoor settings first.
- 19 July | Conditional on a review of the epidemic ahead of this date - all areas move down to level zero and physical distancing reduces to zero metres outdoors and one metre indoors
- 9 August | Conditional on over 40s being fully vaccinated and a review of the epidemic ahead of this date - all areas move beyond level zero (level restrictions lifted) and physical distancing regulations are lifted.
These are indicative dates at this stage, and final decisions will be taken in the reviews preceding 19 July and 9 August.
- Physical distancing has been an important measure for helping to control the virus, but it is recognised that it has had a severe impact on businesses, both on viability and profitability, and on individuals.
- The physical distancing review sets out the plan for reducing and then removing physical distancing, subject to confirmation based on data nearer the time.
- The plan sets out that on the indicative date of 19 July, when the whole of the country is expected to be moved to level zero, the need for physical distancing will no longer be required outdoors and physical distancing indoors will be reduced to one metre for all public settings. This means that indoor businesses will be able to work at one metre distancing from 19 July and outdoor parts of businesses will no longer have any physical distancing requirements, subject to confirmation closer to the time.
- The new physical distancing rules which come
- From 19 July – different households will be permitted to share a bedroom – although this will obviously be dependent upon capacity and appropriate bed spaces within rooms.
- In public spaces within regulated tourist accommodation the rules about socialising indoors in a public space will apply. In level zero a maximum of ten people from up to four households can socialise indoors in a public place. Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the number of people permitted to meet but do count towards the number of households.
- In self-catered or other unregulated accommodation, in house socialising rules apply, in level zero a maximum of eight people from up to four households can socialise in a private dwelling. Children under the age of 12 do not count towards the total number of people permitted to meet but do count towards the number of households.
- If a large room or dormitory room (e.g. within a hostel or other similar venue) is being used by mixed / multiple groupings (but is within the 10/four socialising rule) then a minimum of one metre is required between different family and friends groupings. However, a friendship group sharing a dorm would not have to distance within their own group. They would, however, have to distance from other groups. It is also important that as we relax the socialising rules, especially indoors, other mitigation factors and good practice regarding good ventilation and hygiene measures are adhered to.
These are indicative at this stage, and final decisions will be taken in the reviews preceding 19 July and 9 August.
Physical distancing has been an important mitigation against the virus but it is also burdensome for individuals and costly for businesses. So as vaccinations bear more of the load of controlling the virus, we need to consider when and to what extent we can reduce the legal requirement for it.
Ultimately we hope to remove the legal requirement for physical distancing – even though we may continue to advise people to think about safe distancing when interacting with people outside their close contact groups.
Moving beyond level zero – what does it mean for your sector?
We will move beyond level zero when we meet the ‘gateway condition’ - which is all over 40’s having been vaccinated and assuming we are meeting the revised strategic aim of alleviating the harm of the virus (expected around 9 August, but subject to confirmation nearer the time).
When we move beyond level zero and therefore out of the level’s framework, almost all COVID restrictions will be removed for businesses and individuals. This will mean that all businesses can reopen and can operate without restrictions on physical distancing. For example, this will also mean that weddings can take place with dancing and singing and mingling as before the pandemic.
From the indicative date of 9 August, there will be no household / number caps and physical distancing requirements will also be removed. This will mean that tourist accommodation will be able to operate on a more ‘business as normal basis’ albeit with appropriate hygiene and ventilation measures.
Please note that these dates are indicative and are dependent on the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction being met.
We will however have to live with the virus for some time to come, so Scottish Government will be asking people to stick to a set of baseline measures to stop the virus resurging and to protect those who do not have protection from vaccination. The baseline measures which are expected to be retained beyond level zero include:
- Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning.
- Continued promotion of good ventilation.
- Requirement for face coverings in certain settings. At least for a period, we are likely to require the wearing of face coverings in certain settings – for example, shops and public transport.
- Continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary.
- Ongoing need for outbreak management capability, including active surveillance.
- A phased return to the workplace from level zero onwards, while encouraging a greater degree of homeworking than pre-pandemic. This will not only assist with controlling transmission of the virus, but also promote wellbeing more generally.
There are also likely to be targeted restrictions on overseas travel beyond level zero. However, restrictions will be kept in place only for as long as necessary to respond to the threat of importation. These restrictions are reviewed regularly and will be relaxed when it is safe to do so.
Scottish Government colleagues will work with business organisations and sector teams to ensure effective guidance is in place and further detail provided on baseline measures prior to our move beyond level zero.