Outdoor meeting rules set to be relaxed next week

Nicola Sturgeon hopes to make some 'relatively minor but important' changes to lockdown restrictions.

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Nicola Sturgeon said she hopes to relax the rules around outdoor meetings next week.

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said she was keen to allow people to meet a loved one, but cautioned people not to get carried away as Scotland emerges from lockdown.

Outdoor meetings of four people from two households are scheduled to be allowed between March 15 and April 5 in the Scottish Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Sturgeon said changes to the current rules – which allow the meeting of two adults from two households for exercise – could be announced in the coming days.

She said: “I am hopeful that next week we might be able to make some relatively minor, but I think important, changes to the rules around our ability to meet people outdoors and also to how young people are able to interact with their friends outdoors.

“I think it’s really important that we don’t get carried away yet.

“The overall stay-at-home message needs to stay for a bit longer so that we don’t send our progress into reverse, but I am very keen that within that we should all get a bit more opportunity to see a loved one, as the first steps we take out of this lockdown.”

Sturgeon also announced that Scotland has recorded 11 deaths from coronavirus and 498 positive tests in the past 24 hours.

It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7409.

She said the daily test positivity rate is 3.1%, up from 2.5% the previous day.

There are 666 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 52 in 24 hours, and 64 patients are in intensive care, down three.

By 8.30am on Friday, a total of 1,717,672 Scots had received their first coronavirus vaccine, an increase of 29,064 from the previous day.

Meanwhile, a total of 108,197 have had their second jab, with 8,139 getting this on Thursday.

Sturgeon said 96% of 65 to 69-year-olds had had their first dose of the vaccine, along with 39% of 60 to 64-year-olds, 33% of 55 to 59-year-olds and 27% of 50 to 54-year-olds.

Sturgeon also said routine testing was now available for people without symptoms in food production and processing businesses – such as dairies, abattoirs and meat and seafood processing plants.

She said these workplaces had a higher risk of transmission, due to factors such as the cold temperature and limited ventilation.