A Small Easing of Restrictions on Long Road Back to Pre-Covid-19 "Normality"

Submitted by edg on Fri, 16 Apr '21 7.28pm
Virgin Money Fringe Festival Arches 2019 - Pre Covid-19
Robert Alstead

Scotland is moving slowly back to a less restrictive state as Covid-19 rules are eased.

Today, up to 6 people from up to 6 households, plus children under 12, can socialise outdoors.

On what has been dubbed "Freedom Friday", the travel distance limit within Scotland has also been removed for outdoor, small group recreation, socialising or exercise. However, those who take advantage of the new freedom are being asked not to take overnight trips away from their local authority.

Venues across Edinburgh, and Scotland, continue to take bookings for the phased reopening that will see mainland Scotland and islands move to Level 3 (L3) from L4 on Monday 26th April. All of Scotland then moves to L2 on 17 May.

For long-suffering restaurants, pubs and cafes it means they can open, albeit in a limited way, at the end of the month. 

The limited-capacity openings will be far from the pre-Covid19 “normal”. After the 26th April you will be able to have a drink inside a pub, but it will have to be a soft drink, and you will have to book a 2-hour slot to enjoy it, before the 8pm mandated closure time. 

If you want an alcoholic drink at a pub, you’ll have to take it outside the bar, or wait until Scotland moves from L3 to L2 restrictions on Monday 17th May when boozing will be allowed indoors up to 10.30pm. Booking in two-hour slots will be in place. Physical distancing and limits on capacity will also be in place.

Cinemas, theatres, music venues, and bingo halls all have to wait until Scotland moves to L2 in May.

The Scottish government hopes to have L1 in early June and Level 0 (L0) by late June. 

Stadium events

After the long lockdown, hearing the natural roar of a large, live crowd at a stadium event is going to be something to experience. But it will be a while yet. Under the phased approach stadia and events are closed with exception of drive-in events until L2 opening in May.

By the end of June, crowds of up to 2,000 will be allowed under the L0 restrictions, and exceptions are being made for even larger crowds.

Hampden stadium is expected to host 12,000 fans for the Euro 2020 games in June. Scotland plays the Czech Republic on 14 June and Croatia on 22 June, with Hampden also hosting two other games.

Here are the stadia and events capacity limits:

L2 (17 May)

  • indoor: 100
  • outdoor seated: 500 
  • free-standing: 250

L1 (early June)

  • indoor: 200 
  • outdoor seated: 1000 
  • free-standing: 500

L0 (late June) 

  • indoor: 400
  • outdoor seated: 2000 
  • free-standing: 1000

Level 3 summary

In the immediate future we can look forward to Level 3 easing of restrictions coming into place at the end of the month.

These include:

  • non-essential travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted, and tourist accommodation in Scotland can reopen subject to socialising rules
  • shops will be able to fully reopen with precautions including physical distancing requirements, face masks and hand sanitiser in place
  • gyms and indoor sports facilities, including swimming pools, will reopen for individual exercise, with group activities permitted for under-18s, and all organised outdoor activity can resume except adult contact sport
  • limits on attendance at life events, including weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and receptions for those will increase to 50, with alcohol permitted
  • pubs, cafes and restaurants will reopen outdoors for groups of up to six people from up to six households with alcohol in line with local licencing laws, and indoors for groups of up to six people from up to two households without alcohol until 8pm
  • takeaways will be able to resume normal service, with physical distancing and face masks in premises
  • mobile close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons can resume non-essential work in other people’s homes will resume

Beyond June 

Level 0 still has restrictions. Nightclubs and “adult entertainment” are two spheres of entertainment that will remain locked down under current guidelines.

These are some of the other restrictions.

Socialising (indoor) 

  • Maximum 10 people from up to 4 households in a public place (u-12s excepted, though they do count toward number of households)
  • Maximum 8 people from up to 4 households in a private dwelling 

Socialising (outdoor)

  • Maximum 15 people from up to 15 households (u-12s excepted)

Bars and restaurants

  • Indoors (10/4) or outdoors (15/15) socialising rules apply

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says more easing should be down the road. 

“Reaching Level 0 is not the extent of our ambitions, and later on in the summer as the number of people who have been vaccinated increases further we hope that a level of normality well beyond Level 0 will become possible."

People should reference the Scottish Government website for developments, as new data may cause a change in restrictions. 

Covid-19 figures released today reveal that the 7-day Covid-19 infection rate for Scotland is 34 per 100,000 people, compared to 302 cases on 8th January.