Sturgeon ‘more nervous than ever’ as lockdown eases further

The First Minister said the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers were the 'highest-risk changes' so far.

The First Minister has said she is more nervous now than at any other point of Scotland’s journey out of lockdown.

Scots awoke on Wednesday to the reopening of pubs, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, cinemas, hotels, galleries, museums and childcare.

Nicola Sturgeon said it “marks the biggest step for Scotland out of lockdown so far”, with coronavirus having been driven down to “very low levels” in the country.

But she also warned the reopening of indoor hospitality and attractions were “the highest-risk changes” to the lockdown made so far.

That’s because Covid-19 transmits far easier indoors than outdoors, with the World Health Organisation saying this week it cannot rule out that the virus may become airborne indoors, particularly in poorly ventilated or crowded places.

The First Minister urged anyone planning to go out for a meal, a drink or to get a haircut to stick “rigidly” to guidance on hygiene and physical distancing.

The two-metre distancing rule has been relaxed to one metre in key sectors like hospitality and retail but businesses must have mitigating measures like improved ventilation or revised seating plans in place.

Sturgeon said people should avoid any pub or hairdresser which does not ask for contact details from customers – these are taken down so Scots can be contacted if necessary under the Covid ‘test and protect’ regime.

It comes as Scotland has reported no deaths of confirmed coronavirus patients for seven days in a row.

Meanwhile, five new cases of the virus have been located in Scotland, while just two confirmed cases are currently being treated in intensive care.

The First Minister said: “Today marks the biggest step for Scotland out of lockdown so far.

“The childcare sector can fully open from today, venues like museums, galleries and other attractions can also welcome visitors from today, although in many cases you will need to book tickets in advance.

“Hairdressing services resume today. In fact I understand some opened at midnight (because of) demand. I wish I had known about that.

“Cinemas can also open their doors from day, and places of worship can reopen for communal services and prayer for up to 50 people, if that can be accommodated within physical distancing.

“Our tourism sector can also fully reopen, so hotels and bed and breakfasts, for example, can welcome guests and indoor hospitality, such as pubs and restaurants can open again.”

She added: “The changes are long awaited and have been very hard earned by everybody across the country.

“But I have to say that I am even more nervous about today’s changes than I have been about earlier changes in previous phases of coming out of lockdown.”

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Sturgeon said the restrictions being eased in phase three of the route map out of lockdown are “by some margin the highest risk changes we have made since we began the process out of lockdown”.

Some of the changes were brought in last Friday, including measures allowing indoor meetings between up to three households – a maximum of eight people – provided two-metre distancing is observed.

Outdoor meetings of up to five households, or no more than 15 people, were also given the green light.

Face coverings in shops were also made mandatory on Friday, as they already are on public transport, while shopping centres reopened on Monday.

Hairdressers and barbers can reopen today, but other personal retail like beauticians and nail salons can’t resume work until next Wednesday, July 22.

Wedding or civil partnership ceremonies and funeral services can also start again today with a maximum of 20 guests.

Sturgeon said: “Many of these changes involve indoor activity and we know that the risk of the virus spreading indoors, in a pub for example, is significantly higher than it is outdoors.

“That is why we have deliberately waited until infection levels were very low before allowing these services to restart, that gives us the best possible chances of managing the risk that reopening indoor services creates.

“But it doesn’t remove those risks, and so it is vital – more vital than it has been at any stage of this crisis so far – that all of us stick rigidly to the rules and guidance on how to behave in these different settings.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code