First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that mainland Scotland will move to Level 0 restrictions on July 19 – here’s everything you need to know about the changes that have come into force.
What has Nicola Sturgeon said?
The First Minister used her weekly Covid statement on July 13 to outline the plans for Level 0, which come into force today (July 19).
There were some modifications to the original plan laid out by the Scottish Government, which Ms Sturgeon said was “sensible in light of the challenge we continue to face from the Delta variant.”
She also said that the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport will continue in Scotland “for some time to come.”
She added: “It is important to stress that measures like the continued wearing of face coverings are important, not just to give added protection to the population as a whole, but also to give protection and assurance to those amongst us who are particularly vulnerable and who previously had to shield.”
When asked if face masks will be around until Christmas, deputy first minster John Swinney said that it was “perfectly conceivable.”
Mr Swinney stressed the importance of slowing the spread of the virus by making it more difficult for it to pass between people.
What are the changes that have come into place?
Level 0 has been described as being as close to normal as possible, but some changes have been made to the original plans set out by the Scottish Government.
- At events like weddings and funerals, a maximum of 200 people will be able to gather.
- Groups of up to eight people from four households can meet inside a home and stay overnight.
- Up to 10 people from eight households can meet in a public space like a restaurant.
- Hospitality venues are required to close at midnight instead of times set out by local licensing laws as previously expected.
- Those wishing to attend hospitality venues will no longer be required to book a two-hour slot as in Level 2 but will need to provide contact details.
- In public places indoors, the physical distance requirement will be one meter.
- Outdoors, there will be no requirement to distance inside groups of 15.
- Groups of up to 15 people from 15 households outdoors.
What’s the latest on work from home?
One of the key things expected to change with Scotland’s move to Level 0 restrictions was the gradual return to office spaces.
However, with the updated modifications set out by Ms Sturgeon, those working from home will have to do so for a little bit longer.
She said: “We had indicated that a gradual return to the office could begin at Level 0, but given the current situation, we intend to postpone this until we move beyond Level 0, which we still hope will be on August 9.”
Sympathising with those stuck working from home, she asked that employers continued to look out for their staff and added she was “hopeful” that it wouldn’t be for much longer.
Mixed reactions from hospitality bosses over modified Level 0 move
The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by restrictions, now, instead of the welcomed move down to Level 0 they have to change the way they trade once more.
Venues will close at midnight instead of times set out by local licensing laws as previously expected.
Those wishing to attend hospitality venues will no longer be required to book a two-hour slot as in Level 2 but will need to provide contact details.
In public places indoors, the physical distance requirement will be one meter and masks are to be worn when not sat at tables.
It is hoped that the remaining restrictions that are in place following the first minister’s announcement will be lifted on August 9.
Scott Murray, who owns several bars and restaurants in Inverness as part of Cru Holdings, believes this is a “step in the right direction”. However, he pointed out that the modifications will still have an operational impact in his businesses.
He said: “You can now have more people inside, but it’s socially distanced to the point there’s not a table you can sit them around which defeats the purpose.
“For a long time we all felt like we were making these sacrifices and we weren’t really moving towards a positive outcome, it just felt like history was repeating itself over and over again, whereas now I think we’re starting to see the fruits of that labour. The sacrifices we made are now starting to have a positive impact and things are moving in the direction they need to be, and hopefully for the last time.”
Meanwhile, operations director of McGinty’s Group in Aberdeen, Alan Aitken, has commented that while the move to Level 0 is another step closer to normality the industry is still making a sacrifice.
He said: “We are obviously delighted as it’s another step closer to normality. It is disappointing that the opening hours for indoor hospitality have only been extended by an hour rather than back to “licensed hours” as originally planned but that’s a sacrifice we have to make in order to return to business as usual in a few weeks time.”