Travel restrictions within Scotland are to be eased this week as the country’s route map out of lockdown continues.
From Friday, Scots will be able to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise.
Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that six adults from up to six households will be able to meet up outdoors.
The First Minister announced the changes at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
She said a reduction in prevalence of the virus meant some acceleration of planned lockdown easing was possible to support mental health and wellbeing.
It comes a day after beer gardens and outdoor dining areas in England were allowed to reopen in line with the latest easing of the UK Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to “behave responsibly” as indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcomed customers back.
Scotland is on schedule to ease restrictions further with cafes, restaurants, beer gardens, museums, libraries and gyms expected to open from April 26.
Hospitality will need to close their doors at 8pm indoors and 10pm outdoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.
Travel will also be allowed on this date to other parts of Britain, with reviews planned on journeys to Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Sturgeon said: “We are now extremely confident that those parts of the country currently in level four will move to level three on April 26, that’s now less that two weeks away.
“That means, amongst other things, that on that day shops will fully reopen, pubs, cafes and restaurants will also be able to fully open outdoors on April 26 and will be able to open indoors on that date, but on a restricted basis.”
The First Minister also announced that, while Scotland’s islands would be able to move to level two, a decision has been made to align them with the rest of the country to stop the need for travel restrictions to the islands.
From May 17, pubs are set to open indoors until 10.30pm and contact sports, cinemas, and some small scale events can take place.
Up to four people from two households will also be able to meet up indoors.
It was also confirmed at the briefing that a further three people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
An additional 221 new cases of Covid-19 were also recorded overnight.
The daily test positivity rate is 1.6%, down from the 2.4% reported on Monday when 199 cases were recorded.
According to NHS boards across Scotland, 133 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
The Scottish Government also confirmed that 2,682,706 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 13,983 from the day before.
A total of 605,126 people have received their second dose, a rise of 14,952.
The FM said figures are now at their lowest since September, and have fallen by 40% in the past two weeks.
But she warned against complacency, adding: “We’ve got to be careful not to do too much all at once, because we don’t want the virus quickly gaining ground again, particularly because this new variant is we know more infectious and setting us all back.”
Scotland’s leading political party leaders are going head-to-head in a televised debate live on STV on Tuesday night.
Patrick Harvie (co-leader of the Scottish Green Party), Willie Rennie (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Douglas Ross (Scottish Conservatives), Anas Sarwar (Scottish Labour) and Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party) are being pressed on the big issues between 7.30pm and 9pm.
Hosted by STV political editor Colin Mackay, the debate is beginning with opening statements from each party leader, followed by initial discussion, cross-examination between the leaders and closing statements.
The show – which will also air on the STV Player – is then being followed by reaction and analysis on Scotland Tonight at 10.40pm.
Voters in Scotland will go to the polls to decide the make-up of the next Scottish Parliament on Thursday, May 6.
There will be no overnight count at this election due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a result instead expected over the weekend May 7-9.
How is STV covering the election?
Scotland Tonight specials
Colin Mackay has been carrying out one-to-one leaders’ interviews, which are also available for catch-up on the STV Player.
STV News election special
This showwill air between 4-7pm and 8pm-8.30pm on Friday, May 7, bringing viewers the first results as they come in.
The programme will be presented by John MacKay outside Holyrood, with STV special correspondent Bernard Ponsonby and Rona Dougall analysing the numbers at STV’s results studio in Glasgow – bringing viewers the story as it unfolds and key declarations as they happen live on air.
STV reporters will be at voting counts across the country, feeding in live to the programme.
An additional special will air on Saturday, May 8 from 4.30-6.30pm, covering the results being declared as the new parliament begins to take shape.
STV News at Six
Coverage continues on STV’s nightly news programme, with Kathryn Samson travelling to communities across the country in her Covid-secure ‘bubble’, inviting viewers to share views on all the political developments of the day.
The STV News website will offer comprehensive, up-to-the-minute coverage including leader interviews, expert insights from STV’s political team, rolling results coverage as the counts declare and detailed analysis once the outcome is known.
Reporting will be available on the STV News website, apps and social media platforms.
Armed police lockdown supermarket amid hunt for driver
Officers with guns surrounded the Aldi in Newton Mearns on Tuesday afternoon.
Armed police have surrounded a supermarket in Newton Mearns in a hunt for occupants of a car involved in an earlier incident.
A large number of police vehicles and officers have sealed off Aldi on Greenlaw Way.
A shopper told STV News that police had blocked the entrance to the carpark to prevent anyone else from entering.
At around 3pm on Tuesday, a car reportedly mounted the pavement on Pollokshaws road in Glasgow before driving off.
Officers traced the car to Greenlaw Way where they are now searching for the occupants.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police were called to Pollokshaws Road in Glasgow around 3pm on Tuesday, 13 April, following a report that a car had mounted the pavement before driving from the scene.
“This car has been traced in Greenlaw Way and officers are carrying out searches in the area for the occupants. Enquiries into the full circumstances of the incident are ongoing and there is not believed to be any threat to the wider public.”
The lifting of coronavirus restrictions is to be accelerated, with lockdown measures being eased from Friday.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scots will be able to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise.
Six adults from up to six households will be able to meet up outdoors.
The First Minister also said the government is “extremely confident” that parts of the country currently under level four restrictions will move to level three on 26 April.
Mainland Scotland and some islands have been under level four restrictions – carrying stay at home guidance – since January 5.
Orkney, Shetland and islands in the Highland and Argyll and Bute local authority areas – with the exception of Skye – are already under level three restrictions.
The Scottish Government’s updated framework on the planned easing of restrictions is available here and the key dates can be viewed at a glance below.
All of the indicative dates are subject to change in accordance with the prevalence of the virus and the progress of the vaccination programme.
From April 16:
Travel: People will be able to leave their local authority area and travel anywhere in mainland Scotland for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise, though travel between the mainland and some islands will not be permitted.
Socialising: Rules on gatherings will also be relaxed, with six adults from up to six households able to meet up outside.
From April 26:
Levels: The whole of Scotland expected to move into level three.
Retail: All non-essential retail permitted to reopen.
Socialising: Under level three restrictions, up to six people from two households can socialise indoors in a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant. No in-house socialising permitted.
Travel: The islands, which could have moved to level two, will stay in level three to open travel to and from the mainland. Journeys across the border to England will also be permitted, with reviews planned on journeys to Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Hospitality: Hospitality venues like cafes, pubs and restaurants can open until 8pm indoors – but without alcohol – and 10pm outdoors where alcohol is allowed to be consumed.
Gyms: Gyms can open for individual exercise.
Tourism: Tourist accommodation can open with restrictions in place.
Driving lessons: Driving lessons and tests can resume.
Weddings and funerals: Funerals and weddings including post-funeral events and receptions can take place with up to 50 people, but no alcohol may be served.
Visitor attractions: Indoor attractions and public buildings such as galleries, museums and libraries can open.
From May 17:
Levels: Scottish Government plans to move all of Scotland to level two.
Socialising: Under level two restrictions, up to six people from three households can socialise indoors in a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant. Four people from two households can socialise inside a house. Eight adults from up to eight households are able to meet up outside.
Hospitality: Venues can open and sell alcohol indoors until 10.30pm or outdoors until 10pm.
Sport: Outdoor adult contact sport and indoor group exercise can restart.
Recreation: Cinemas, amusement arcades, and bingo halls can open.
Events: Small-scale outdoor and indoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints.
Support: Face-to-face support services (where not possible to deliver remotely) can resume.
Further education: Universities and colleges can return to a more blended model of learning. Non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors.
Worship: Communal worship can open, subject to capacity constraints.
From early June:
Levels: Scottish Government plans to move Scotland into level one in early June.
Socialising: Under level one restrictions, up to eight people from three households can socialise indoors in a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant. Six people from three households can socialise inside a house. Twelve adults from up to twelve households are able to meet up outside.
Hospitality: Hospitality can remain open until 11pm.
Events: Attendance at events can increase, subject to capacity constraints.
Sport: Indoor non-contact sport can take place.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship: Numbers of guests at weddings, funerals and in places of worship may be able to increase.
From late June:
Levels: The Scottish Government plans to move Scotland into level zero by the end of June.
Socialising: Under level zero, restrictions up to 10 people from four households can socialise indoors in a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant. Eight people from four households can socialise inside a house. Fifteen adults from up to fifteen households are able to meet up outside.
Offices: A phased return of some office staff.
Steps that have already been taken
From February 22:
Schools: Primaries one, two and three returned to class full-time in late February. Nursery children also went back on that date, along with some senior pupils facing assessments in S4-S6 on a part-time basis.
Care homes: Regular visiting resumed in Scottish care homes from early March, with residents allowed to have two designated visitors each. Each designated visitor can see their relative once a week.
Socialising: Rules eased from Friday, March 12 to allow outdoor meetings of four people from two households.
Sport: Non-contact outdoor group sports for 12-17-year-olds – in groups of up to 15 – were also permitted to resume from March 12.
From March 15:
Schools: The second phase of schools reopening began on March 15. Primary four to seven pupils returned full-time and all secondary school pupils went back on a part-time ‘blended learning’ basis until Easter.
Universities and colleges: Phased return of a further small number of priority students for in-person learning.
Communal worship: Places of worship reopened with numbers restricted to 50 – up from the previously proposed limit of 20 – from March 26.
From April 2:
Stay at home: The ‘stay at home’ order changed on April 2 to ‘stay local’, allowing for travel within a local authority area for non-essential purposes.
From April 5:
Hairdressers: Hairdressers and barbers opened in Scotland for pre-booked appointments on April 5.
Retail: More retailers including click-and-collect services, garden centres, car dealerships, homeware and electrical repair stores began welcoming back customers.
Sport: Outdoor contact sports for 12-17-year olds returned.
Further education: More university and college students returned for in-person teaching.
From April 12:
Schools: All pupils returning to school full time after the Easter holiday – start date varies according to the local authority.
Inverness claim striker Todorov was racially abused at Raith
Highland club say striker showed 'exemplary conduct' after he was issued with excessive misconduct charge by the SFA.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker Nikolay Todorov was subjected to “extreme provocation, racist abuse and violence” in a match against Raith Rovers, the club alleged on Tuesday.
The Highland side released a statement after Todorov was issued with an excessive misconduct charge by the Scottish Football Association due to an alleged breach of conduct during the Championship match in Kirkcaldy on March 16.
Raith Rovers midfielder Iain Davidson has also been issued with an excessive misconduct charge for an alleged breach during the same match.
Both players face disciplinary hearings in the coming weeks.
Inverness CT said in a statement: “Today, Inverness Caledonian Thistle player Nikolay Todorov was issued a notice of complaint by the SFA. This relates to an allegation that disciplinary rule 202 was breached i.e ‘No player shall commit excessive misconduct at a match’.
“We will robustly defend our player from this allegation. Nikolay’s conduct on March 16 was entirely exemplary during the extreme provocation, racist abuse and violence he was subjected to. We are unable at this stage to comment further.”
Davidson was shown a straight red card for a foul on Todorov after ten minutes during the match at Stark’s Park last month.
Solicitor Aamer Anwar, who has been instructed to act on behalf of Todorov, said: “Nikolay Todorov vehemently denies that he is guilty of any misconduct. He sees the allegations as spurious and believes the facts will speak for themselves at a full hearing in due course.
“However, it is important to state what is already in the public domain, during the course of the match Nikolay was subjected to violent tackles on two occasions, whilst another player was grabbed by the throat, which resulted in a Raith Rovers player being issued two red cards on the second occasion and sent off.
“During the first incident it is alleged that Nikolay was subjected to racial abuse which left him shaken and upset. The alleged abuse was witnessed by others.”
Raith Rovers made no comment when approached by STV News.
A club spokesperson said: “We await the result of the disciplinary case involving Iain Davidson.”
The Braemar Gathering has been cancelled for a second year due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision follows other Highland Games across Scotland which have been forced to axe plans over fears restrictions on gatherings won’t be lifted in time.
The historic Highland event near the Balmoral Estate has been held in the area for more than 900 years, with the Queen patron of the games.
She would regularly attend the games with her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday aged 99 at Windsor Castle.
David Geddes, president of the Braemar Royal Highland Society said: “This has been an extremely difficult decision to make. To cancel a gathering is something which I had hoped I would never have to do in my time as president. Now, to cancel for a second year is heart-breaking.
“However, there is still uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus and we must put the wellbeing of our community, visitors and volunteers first.
“We know the gathering is a highlight in many people’s year and an event which many make plans for well in advance.
“We share everyone’s disappointment and offer our hope and thoughts that you stay well and keep safe as the pandemic moves into what we hope is the final phase.
“As I said last year, like the hills around Braemar, the gathering will be here next year, and we look forward to happier times and to welcoming you back to Braemar on September 3, 2022.”
Tickets for this year’s games will be valid for the 2022 event, however ticket holders can also request a refund from the bookings secretary.
Nicola Sturgeon has said she “carries the weight” of the decision to move patients into care homes during the early days of the pandemic with her “every single day”.
During Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said she “can’t turn the clock back” in order to make different decisions over the care of older patients.
It comes as the Scottish health secretary admitted moving patients back from hospitals into care homes was a “mistake”.
In an interview with the BBC, Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government had failed in “understanding the social care sector well enough” and “didn’t take the right precautions” when older people were leaving hospitals.
When asked about Freeman’s comments during the briefing, Sturgeon said: “We thought it was wrong to leave older people in hospitals that were about to be overrun with Covid.
“We thought they would be safer in other settings with the right infection protection procedures and isolation procedures in place, and we didn’t know what we know now about asymptomatic transmission.
“We have tried to learn as we have gone along and we’ve made changes as we’ve gone along and thankfully, although one death is one too many, in the second wave that we have experienced, deaths in care homes have been significantly lower than in the first because we had learned those lessons as we’ve gone along.
“I can’t turn the clock back and know everything then that I know now.
“We tried to make the best decisions but we would have got things wrong, it is inevitable given what we were dealing with but that doesn’t mean that the sense of responsibility we feel for that is any less.
“There will be a full public inquiry into all of this and I hope that we will see this public inquiry get under way later this year.
“Please believe me when I say I carry the weight of this every single day and alway will in terms of the decisions we were taking.”
Many wildfires are avoidable and the result of people discarding cigarettes, littering or lighting campfires or barbecues in the wrong places.
Forestry and Land Scotland said it continues to welcome locals to forests but urged visitors to follow guidelines.
Chief executive Simon Hodgson said: “Right now everyone should take extra care and be aware of the heightened fire risk and not carry out any activity that might risk starting a wildfire.
“Helping to prevent wildfires also prevents undue demands being made on our blue light services – and could also save lives.”
Senior officer Farquharson said: “Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting, so it is crucial that people act safely and responsibly in rural environments, and always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.”
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has announced a series of manifesto pledges to support veterans including a new top-up benefit and a dedicated help to buy a home scheme.
The party also set out plans to bring forward a Bill to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant in law for devolved Scottish public bodies.
The Covenant is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
Speaking before a visit to the Royal Scots Monument in Edinburgh, Ross said: “Scotland has long played a proud and essential role in our military history. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our service men and women, but warm words are not enough.
“Too many veterans and families are failed, and their sacrifices go unrecognised. While many thrive and prosper after their military service, some end up homeless, struggle to get medical care or some even become trapped in a cycle of reoffending.”
A similar Bill has already come before the UK Parliament and a Westminster Select Committee has started a survey on the forthcoming legislation.
It would introduce a legal duty on some UK public bodies to ensure the Armed Forces community is treated fairly.
Ross said the Bill in the Scottish Parliament would “ensure that military personnel in Scotland are guaranteed access to a variety of key services”.
All of Scotland’s local authorities have an existing Armed Forces Covenant Partnership but a Scottish Government report found there was some confusion around its interpretation, particularly to do with priority treatment from local services.
Ross also unveiled the Scottish Conservatives pledge to create a new top-up benefit for veterans’ households in receipt of Universal Credit. The proposed top-up would be worth £10 extra a week, or £520 per year.
The party’s manifesto also includes a pledge to introduce a veteran specific Help to Buy scheme as well as reinstating the general scheme which was closed on February 5, having been expected to run until March 2022.
The changes would impact around 220,000 veterans who live in Scotland.
Ross said: “The Scottish Conservatives stand shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces and veteran community. That is why we fought at Westminster for personnel stationed in Scotland to be compensated for the SNP’s higher income taxes so that they don’t receive less pay than those serving in the Armed Forces anywhere else in the UK.
“We truly value the sacrifices made by those who have served our country and know how difficult the transition to civilian life can be.
“We want servicemen and women who choose to make Scotland their home know that they are in a country fit for heroes.”