First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has just been in parliament to announce the relaxation of restrictions in Scotland.
Following the announcement for England three weeks ago it was the turn of Scotland to lay out the plans for reopening. Here are the key dates:
As with all announcements of this kind it was prefaced with a warning that all these dates are dependent on the rates continuing to drop and the vaccine rollout continuing.
2nd April – Stay at home order lifted (will be changed to stay local for first few weeks).
5th April – Non-essential retail and hairdressers to reopen on.
26th April – All parts of Scotland in level 4 to move down to an ‘adjusted’ level 3. Hospitality to reopen outside with groups of 6 from up to 3 households allowed until 10pm. There will be no requirement to be serve food with alcohol. There will also, if the Covid figures allow, be limited reopening of indoor hospitality venues but this is only for food and non-alcoholic drinks until 8pm with a maximum of 4 people from 2 households. Venues will need to keep customers contact details for 3 weeks after their visit.
Also travel restrictions within Scotland lifted and possibly across the UK (overseas travel to be reviewed). All remaining retail to open, tourist accommodation (subject to wider restrictions remaining in place with hospitality), gyms open. Outdoor socialising increased to 6 people from 3 households.
Island communities will be addressed individually.
17th May – If the figures allow, all, or as many as possible, level 3 areas will move to level 2 with a return to indoor hospitality with normal opening hours although maybe with some further restrictions (booking in 2 hour slots for example) – this will be reviewed nearer the time.
1st June – Scotland to move to level 1
End of June – Scotland to move to level 0
When it comes to financial support for hospitality there will be a 100% rates relief for the next financial year for hospitality. On the 22nd March recipients of support under the Strategic Business Framework Fund will receive a final 4 week payment, no new claims after that date. 19th April they will receive a combined amount of 2 weeks worth of closure support and a one-off restart grant, for hospitality venues this means a final one-off payment of up to £19,500.
Well they are dates, and that is always a relief to get, but there was a lot of ‘hope’ and ‘if possible’ and ‘possible further restrictions’ in amongst the dates. In essence Scotland will be reopening hospitality outside two weeks after England but reopening inside on the same date.
Once again non-essential retail gets the jump on hospitality with next to no restrictions or rules to follow. The dates are, unsurprisingly, cautious for hospitality especially when you look at one element of the announcement. Nicola Sturgeon said that by mid-April the 9 priority groups will be vaccinated which is great news, the kicker comes with her confirmation that those groups account for 99% of Covid related deaths in Scotland.
With a 2 week window afterwards for those vaccines to kick in you get to the 26th April when the restrictions start to be lifted. I would imagine many will be wondering why they have to wait 3 weeks longer for hospitality to reopen with any sense of normality.
Either way, Scotland you have dates and we can’t wait till we can come up and see all our Scottish buddies and have a drink or several.