Scots should expect a period of “ongoing confusion” as the country begins to slowly come out of lockdown, a public health expert has said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was the most optimistic she has been in months as she laid out plans to ease restrictions.
Hairdressers, non-essential retail and garden centres will reopen in the coming weeks, with pubs and restaurants also getting an idea of when they can finally reopen their doors for the first time since Christmas.
From April 2, the current stay at home order for Scotland will be lifted, and replaced with a Stay Local advisory.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, told Good Morning Scotland she believes it is “absolutely the right time to be opening up”.
She warned however that the complex nature of the pandemic meant a period of “ongoing confusion” around restrictions was likely.
Prof Bauld said: “Like 2020, this is a complex set of changes with lots of numbers involved.
“I do expect a bit of ongoing confusion but the broad message is still to have a careful, gradual opening up and being able to look forward to the spring and summer with things a lot more back to normal.”
A “significant reduction” in Covid numbers has resulted in 570 cases being recorded on average each day, down from an average of 815 just three weeks ago.
All primary pupils returned to school on Monday and Prof Bauld said she expects to see more cases as more and more kids return to the classroom.
She said: “Given we’ve had a full three weeks since the last [school] changes, the numbers have been very small.
“That has clearly gone well and we heard from the first minister that we’ve had fewer cases than she might have expected.
“But as we get more pupils in, I’d expect us to have more cases.”
April 5 changes
From April 5, some non-essential retail, such as click and collect services, hardware stores and car showrooms and forecourts will be permitted to reopen, along with garden centres, hairdressers and barbers.
Contact sports will return for those aged between 12 and 17 with students in further education to return to learning environments, with colleges and universities to prioritise students whose return is essential.
Ms Sturgeon said the easing of restrictions to this point is the “maximum we consider at that stage to do safely”, but stressed an ongoing review will be undertaken to see if some changes after this date may be able to be implemented sooner than proposed.
April 26 changes
Scottish islands currently under Level 3 restrictions may move to Level 2, although discussions between local authorities and the Scottish Government will take place to establish what this level may look like.
Cafes, restaurants and bars will be able to serve people outdoors until 10pm, with groups formed from up to six from three households.
Alcohol will be allowed without the requirement for a meal to be served. However, indoors only non-alcoholic drinks can be served with meals permitted until 8pm, in slightly smaller groups of four from two households.
All remaining retail premises will open from April 26, along with tourist accommodation, subject to restrictions.
Libraries, museums and galleries will also reopen, as will indoor gyms for individual exercise.