The Scottish government has confirmed that the lifting of all restrictions in the country will be delayed until 19 July 2021, when the country will aim to move to Level 0 on the assumption that all necessary vaccination and harm reduction measures are met.
The news follows the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and the increased emergence of the Delta variant.
The current Covid-19 protective levels will remain in place for the next three weeks with a review taking place on 13 July 2021, although some changes, such as minor relaxations to rules on events like weddings and funerals will come into place earlier on 28 June 2021.
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.
Furthermore, if the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue to be met, all major remaining Covid restrictions will aim to be lifted on 9 August 2021.
Sturgeon said: “A very significant degree of normality will be restored – for individuals and for businesses. As I said earlier, these are indicative dates, but they allow us to plan ahead with more clarity. As always, we all have a part to play in keeping us on track.
“From now, our aim will be to suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we recover and rebuild for a better future.”
In response to the government’s statement, Leon Thompson, executive director, UKHospitality Scotland, said that the news “extends the difficulties” being faced by hospitality businesses desperate to trade without restrictions.
He added: “Whilst the delay in moving to Level 0 was expected, businesses have simply been placed in limbo and will need to wait weeks for the changes they desperately need.
“What was completely absent from the first minister’s statement was anything on business support. This is vital to ensure that businesses – which have already held on so long and are now at breaking point – can survive.”