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Physical Distancing Review and the Updated Strategic Framework

The First Minister made a statement on 22 June accompanied by the publication of the Physical distancing review and the updated Strategic Framework.

First Ministers statement to the Scottish Parliament – Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister’s statement – 22 June 2021 – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Scotland’s Strategic Framework Update – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework Update – June 2021 – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Review of Physical Distancing in Scotland – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Review of Physical Distancing in Scotland – June 2021 – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

What is happening with Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing has been an important measure for helping to control the virus but we recognise that it is has had a severe impact on businesses, both on viability and profitability, and on individuals.
  • Today’s 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 0, the need for physical distancing will be no longer be required outdoors and physical distancing indoors will be reduced to 1m for all public settings.  This means that indoor businesses will be able to work at 1m distancing from 19 July and outdoor parts of businesses will no longer have any physical distancing requirements, subject to confirmation nearer the time.
  • The new physical distancing rules which come into effect on 19 July will no longer require physical distancing between members of friendship / family groups, but they will be required to maintain a distance of at least 1 m from all others.
  • 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 0 a maximum of ten people from up to 4 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 0 a maximum of 8 people from up to 4 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 10/4 socialising rule) then a minimum of 1 m 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.

What does moving beyond level 0 mean?

  • We will move beyond level 0 when we meet the gateway condition – which is all over 40’s having been vaccinated and assuming we are meeting our 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 0 and therefore out of the levels 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 9th of 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 we 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 we currently expect to retain beyond Level 0 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 0 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 0. However, we will keep restrictions 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 0.

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