Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland eased on Monday as most of the country enters level two of the five-tier system.
Only Glasgow and Moray remain in level three due to recent outbreaks of the virus.
For the rest of mainland Scotland, the change to level two means new rules regarding hugging, indoor socialising and hospitality venues.
Scotland will also join the rest of the UK in implementing a ‘traffic light system’ for international travel.
What is changing?
Pubs in level two areas are allowed to open and sell alcohol indoors with up to six people from three households able to socialise indoors in a private home or garden without physical distancing.
Pubs can open and sell alcohol indoors until 10.30pm in two-hour booked slots. Local licensing laws will apply outdoors.
Meanwhile, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music venues, comedy clubs, amusement arcades, casinos, snooker halls and bingo halls can open – although soft play centres, funfairs and nightclubs still have to remain closed.
Outdoor and indoor events can also resume with maximum capacities indoors of 100, outdoors seated of 500 and outdoors free-standing of 250.
Adult contact sport can restart outdoors and non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors.
Universities and colleges will be able return to a more blended model of learning.
Glasgow and Moray
With coronavirus numbers having fallen, and the continued rollout of the vaccination programme, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously indicated the whole of mainland Scotland could move to level two restrictions.
However, following outbreaks in both Glasgow and Moray the decision was taken to keep both areas in level three for at least another week.
People have been asked not to travel in and out of Moray or the city of Glasgow during that time unless their journey is essential.
Those living in the most affected areas of Glasgow, which has overtaken Moray to be the country’s Covid hotspot, are being urged to take a Covid-19 test regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.
Sturgeon said there was evidence to suggest the outbreak in Glasgow was being driven by the Indian B.1.617.2 variant.
She added she was optimistic that increased testing and vaccination would help to curb the increased spread of the virus, while also stressing that Scotland’s battle against coronavirus “remains good”.
On Moray, the First Minister said: “Case numbers remain more than double the Scottish average and so the judgement of the local incident management team, which has informed this decision, is that it is prudent for Moray to remain at level three for a further week, so that we can be more confident that the situation is firmly under control.”
She added: “It is inevitable that as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, we will hit bumps in the road, however, if we exercise suitable caution as we’re seeking to do today, then even though that is difficult, we are much more likely to stay on the right track overall.”
The national clinical director has urged caution with those going in to level two asked to be careful with their new freedoms.
Professor Jason Leitch said: “We have decided, with advice, that on Monday the rest of the country is safe to move to the next stage.
“But we all said the hugging, the increased hospitality, that should all be done very cautiously.
“So don’t go crazy but we think it can be kept under control.”
Traffic light system
Sturgeon has confirmed that a traffic light system for international travel will also become active, meaning countries will be sorted into lists depending on their current coronavirus numbers.
The likely green list destinations, territories in which visits to would have no quarantine requirement, are Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island.
Although there will be no quarantine requirement for these countries, Sturgeon has warned that these would be the “exception and not the rule” with most destinations instead appearing on the amber list.
The three counties currently on the red list, visits to which require managed isolation in a quarantine hotel for ten days at the cost of £1750 for a solo traveller, are Turkey, Nepal and the Maldives.
The First Minister said that most countries will be on the amber list, visits to which will require self-isolation at home with two PCR tests taken during that period.
Many of Scotland’s islands will move to level one due to vaccination coverage and low case numbers.
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