Nicola Sturgeon described her own announcement as the “most significant milestone yet” in Scotland’s journey out of lockdown – and many business owners will agree.
Over the next few weeks, phase three will see shutters fly open on pubs, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, barbers, nail salons and a range of other businesses across the country – many of whom will have feared the day might never come.
It represents a major step back towards normality and industry bosses had been crying out for clarity against an increasingly worrying economic backdrop.
The first minister always warned restrictions may not be lifted uniformly under each phase but for businesses who will stay closed despite hoping for the green light, the announcement will come as a bitter blow.
Ms Sturgeon admitted areas such as call centres and other “non-essential” offices, indoor gyms, entertainment venues and bingo halls had provided her officials with “particular challenges”, so will stay shut for now.
In the case of dental practices, which will be allowed to reopen but only for procedures which do not create a fine mist – in other words those that do not require the use of a drill, the measures will be viewed as a disappointment.
The first minister said it will take “a bit more time” to work through these issues and the fact Scotland’s infection rate is estimated to be five times lower than its nearest neighbour illustrates why she will feel a cautious approach is working.
But the SNP leader has also spoken of balancing the harms of Covid-19 across society, including the economic damage. The suggestion phase three could last longer than any previous stage only compounds the importance of these decisions.