We will continue to monitor closely this encouraging data. Assuming that all goes well, our next significant milestone for easing restrictions will be 5 April, when we plan to ease a wider range of current restrictions in level 4 areas (some of these activities/settings are already permitted/open in Level 3 island communities) including:
The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.
Subject to supply by mid-April, we plan to have offered the vaccine to priority vaccine groups 1-9, based on the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation advice for protecting the most vulnerable in our population. Assuming the data allows it, we expect a more significant reopening of the economy and society from 26 April. This will likely include the following easings (some of these activities/settings are already permitted/open in Level 3 island communities).
Three weeks on from the publication of the last update, and given the progress with the vaccination programme and what we have learned about its impact on reducing transmission of the virus, we are now in a position to add a new indicative date for further easing of restrictions. From 17 May we hope to introduce the following easings:
We know that the coronavirus is unpredictable and is adept at mutating in order to survive. It is also vital that we allow enough time between different sets of easings to assess what effect they have had on the R number and other virus indicators. For that reason, it is too early now to give specific dates beyond May. However, we understand the need for people and businesses to plan and so, to give a broad sense of likely timings, from the start of June, we would aim for Scotland to move back to Level 1. This will allow further relaxation across all areas of the economy and society, while still applying physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions and the FACTS guidance. From the end of June, we hope that we will be able to move to Level 0.
We must also be prepared to pause if the data shows that the virus is spreading again. We will act decisively to reapply higher levels of restrictions to manage localised outbreaks should the need arise. This could be on a local or regional basis, depending on the nature of the outbreak. However, we will not leave any restrictions in place for any longer than they are necessary to meet our responsibility to safeguard the people of Scotland.
Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC)’s Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said:
“The timeline set out by the First Minster is most welcome and will give self-catering operators, and hospitality and tourism businesses across Scotland, the scope we need to plan for the immediate and medium-term future.
“In our view, these initial steps out of lockdown strike the correct balance between the needs of business, the desire across the country for increased normality, and the caution that we all have to continue to observe as we work together to beat COVID-19.
“The ASSC commends the Scottish Government on the majority of the content announced today and we look forward to receiving the further promised details on the funding that will be available to help us restart our businesses and get back to creating memory-making holidays for our customers.
“However, we still require further clarity on the impact on business of household restrictions, which will continue until we reach Level Zero, rendering businesses unviable, as well the much-needed financial support as a matter of extreme urgency.
“There can be few sectors in Scotland that understand better the need to return to near normality as much as ours and, as a sector, self-catering is dedicated to continuing to work constructively with the Scottish Government, and all other stakeholders, in achieving this is in a safe and timely manner.”
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said;
“The First Minister’s announcement of an indicative timeline for the phased reopening of our tourism and hospitality sector will be massively welcomed by the sector today; it is the most positive news we have received in a long time.
“The STA has been in discussion with the Scottish Government on almost a daily basis over the past few weeks to highlight the need for a clearer route out of lockdown to be given to tourism businesses and our supply chain, not only to allow for the necessary timeframe to plan for reopening, but to protect the many thousands of jobs which are at risk.
“Today’s announcement will offer some very much needed light at the end of what has been the darkest tunnel for our industry.
“One of the biggest challenges for tourism businesses has been the restrictions around travel throughout the country which will be removed as of 26th April allowing all tourist accommodation, cafes and restaurants the opportunity to open, 50 guests to attend weddings and our tourist attractions and adventure operators to start operating again.
“The sector has been closed for the majority of the past year; every aspect of the route map announced this afternoon offers us a more solid pathway for securing and protecting jobs and the ability to plan for reopening in accordance with government guidelines, building consumer confidence that when visitors choose to return, it will be safe to do so.
“Concern remains around the impact of the loss of our international market which will continue to be felt acutely by many sectors who are dependent on our global markets to trade viably, but it was encouraging to hear the First Minister to discussions set to take place with the travel industry and refer to a review of this mid-May.
“It’s absolutely critical that continued tailored financial support, by way of grants is made available to those who won’t be in a position to open and trade viably until we move into the much lower tiers; the up-front restart will be very welcomed to assist with that outlay.
“The detail announced today will I know come as a huge relief for so many and we look forward to posing further questions to the First Minister over the course of the coming days for an exclusive interview which will form part of the STA’s virtual conference programme on 24th March.
“We hugely appreciate the level of consultation between the Scottish Government, the STA and our colleagues within the sectoral groups and their willingness to listen and respond favourably to the recommendations which have been presented.
“We of course acknowledge that these dates are provisional and we are committed to working in a safe and professional manner to minimise risk and ensure that our tourism industry can play a key part in the rebuild and recovery of Scotland’s economy.”