Restrictions on travel and outdoor meetings ease in Scotland

Groups of up to six adults from six different households can meet up outdoors.

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Some coronavirus travel restrictions have been removed in Scotland and more people are now able to meet up outdoors.

From Friday, Scots can leave their local authority area and visit other parts of the country for the purposes of outdoor socialising, recreation or exercise.

But they must follow the “stay local” order for other purposes such as non-essential shopping, and travel to some islands is not allowed.

Six adults from up to six different households are able to meet up outdoors. Children under 12 do not count towards the limit.

The latest stage in lockdown easing was announced at an unscheduled Covid-19 briefing by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.

She said the continued decline in virus cases meant the restrictions can be eased earlier than planned.

Gordon Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, told STV News that extra rangers and litter staff will be out in force on Friday.

He said: “We know people are desperate to get out after a long winter lockdown, but things aren’t quite the same just yet.

“So if you do come out, businesses won’t be open and not all facilities will be open, so we ask people to plan ahead.”

Overnight stays are not permitted, so camping outside your local authority is still not allowed.

As people are expected to take advantage of the easing and good weather to get outdoors, hillwalkers have also been urged to make sure they properly prepare.

Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed the move but warned that conditions on hills can vary with snow still lying extensively at higher altitudes.

Heather Morning, adviser for Mountaineering Scotland, said: “People should also be conscious that, with limited opportunity to climb in the hills over the last few months, they may have lost some hill-fitness and may well prefer to take on easier walks to begin with so they can ease themselves back into the swing of things.”

Further easing of restrictions is expected later this month, with non-essntial retail, gyms, pubs and restaurants all due to reopen on April 26.

Hospitality will be bound by curfew restrictions, meaning pubs will have to close at 10pm with alcohol only allowed to be served outdoors.

The Scottish Hospitality Group said only 22 to 24% of licensed premises have outside beer gardens – many of those that do only have three or four tables, making opening financially infeasible.

A spokesperson said: “If you are allowing a wedding of 50 to have alcohol, it’s time to allow our locals to enjoy a meal with a drink, as they support us all year.”