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Sturgeon confirms Level 2 restriction shift


All of mainland Scotland – with the “highly probable exception” of Moray – will move from Level 3 to Level 2 of coronavirus restrictions on 17 May.

In her first briefing since being re-elected, Nicola Sturgeon added that many island areas will move to Level 1.

Moray is expected to remain in Level 3 following a surge in cases and an increase in hospital admissions.

David Groundwater, the Federation of Small Businesses’ development manager for Moray, said: “However necessary the maintenance of restrictions in Moray might be, this announcement will worry many local firms – if Moray is to remain at Level 3 then new cash to support these operators must be dispersed quickly.”

In the rest of the mainland, six people from three households will be able to meet indoors, the same number can meet in a hospitality venue and eight people from eight houses can meet outdoors.

Alcohol can be served indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants and cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades can reopen.

While hugging is allowed again, the First Minister stressed that it remains “vital to be cautious”, saying dropping social distancing will be reviewed for all situations in the coming weeks.

She also confirmed Scotland will move to a traffic light system for international travel, similar to that already announced for England.

“We consider that the situation now allows us to believe a careful move away from blanket restrictions on non-essential travel overseas,” Sturgeon said.


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From Monday, managed isolation will still be needed for countries on the ‘red list’, while a 10-day period of self-isolation with two PCR tests will be needed for amber list countries and those arriving from ‘green list’ countries will be required to take a test when they arrive, but will not need to self-isolate if they do not have the virus.

While green list status should be the “exception not the rule”, 12 countries and territories will be on the list from the start, including Iceland, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand and Australia.

“This decision means that, as of now, we have a consistent four nations position on international travel – I think that’s positive,” stated Sturgeon.

“It has been made possible because the decisions the UK Government has arrived at are appropriately cautious – I hope this continues to be the case but I need to stress that the Scottish Government will continue to take the decision we consider to be right for Scotland.

“We will not sign up to decisions that will put our progress at risk.”

Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, responded:“It’s important that travellers understand that the green light countries may have their own specific requirements for entry for travellers in addition to the UK’s testing requirements.

“We’re still very keen to hear how a vaccination pass will work in practice in Scotland, with less than a week to go until the ‘take off’ outlined today – travel agents and travellers do need to know how this will be implemented and what this will mean for anyone in their group who has not been vaccinated, for example due to age or underlying health conditions.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) complained that the sector has been “left in limbo” over reopening, due to a lack of clarity on dates from the Scottish Government.

At the end of April NTIA Scotland launched legal action against the Scottish Government, which it says is proceeding “at pace”, over the emergency coronavirus legislation put in place last year.

NTIA Scotland chairman Mike Grieve said: “As our neighbours south of the border prepare to unlock and remove all restrictions within the coming weeks, in Scotland we remain stuck in perpetual limbo with still no indicative date for reopening or even an outline of the conditions which will allow nightlife to restart.”

The body also urged Sturgeon to hold a “crisis summit” with the sector to find solutions before 39,000 jobs are lost – according to NTIA research.

The First Minister said she was open to the idea, telling the coronavirus briefing: “We’ll be happy to talk, as we have done on an ongoing basis, to any group in any sector.

“Specifically on culture… we’ll shortly be announcing additional an £40m of funding which is going to allow Creative Scotland to run a second round of the cultural organisations and venues recovery fund and also the performing arts relief fund.

“The purpose of that will be to help eligible organisations that didn’t receive funding in the first round so there is some further financial support that’s coming very shortly.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar urged the Scottish Government to reconsider the placement of pool and snooker halls in the levels system.

Currently, the venues are considered to be the same as nightclubs, a placement which has caused anger from owners of the halls.

He said: “Snooker and pool halls can guarantee ventilation, cleaning and social distancing.

“It’s time the government gave Scotland’s hard-pressed snooker and pool halls a decent break, to coin a phrase – how can a casino be open and a snooker hall can’t – it’s making a mockery of the rules.”

He added: “I intend to speak to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the earliest possible opportunity”.

Brian Links, the owner of Glasgow-based snooker club Reardon’s, has rallied more than 30 such venues to call on the leaders of Scotland’s five main political parties and all new elected representatives to change the regulations.

“You could say we’ve been hit with a double whammy,” he said. “We are treated in the rules like nightclubs but don’t get the same level of financial compensation.”

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