Coronavirus in Scotland: Lockdown easing begins with up to four adults from two households able to meet in any outdoor space

Scotland has taken its first steps out of lockdown, with rules on meeting people outdoors relaxed.

From today (March 12), up to four adults from two households will be able to meet locally for social and recreational purposes as well as exercise.

Interactions will be able to take place in any outdoor space - including private gardens.

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People should only go indoors to reach a back garden or to use a toilet, and households should only meet up close to home.

Outdoor non-contact sports and group exercise will also be allowed for adults in groups of up to 15 people.

Young people aged 12 to 17 will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to four people from four different households, participate in outdoor non-contact sports, and other organised activities in groups of up to 15 and travel across local authority boundaries to participate in such activities.

However the overall “stay at home” order is expected to remain in place for some weeks to come.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes all of parts of Scotland can see a “substantial” easing of lockdown when the country returns to the levels system at the end of next month.

Rules on meeting people outdoors in Scotland have been relaxed.
Rules on meeting people outdoors in Scotland have been relaxed.

The First Minister said while she wanted to adopt a national approach initially, those areas with lower rates on infection could hopefully “go faster”.

Ms Sturgeon has already announced the intention for Scotland to return to its levels system, with different tiers of restrictions applying in different areas, from April 26.

Speaking to MSPs on Holyrood’s Covid-19 Committee on Wednesday, she said coronavirus was still “circulating at levels that are too high for comfort”.

She added that the strain of the virus that is dominant in Scotland is “much more infectious” than infections last year.

The First Minister continued: “We know from pretty hard experience in the final part of last year, and the first part of this year, that it spreads and transmits very quickly and we don’t have experience yet as to how far and fast that will spread when we start to lift restrictions.

“And while we are making really good progress with the vaccine programme, in that 40% of the adult population is now vaccinated, we need to get that percentage higher to have a degree of protection from the vaccine that will substitute [for] the protection from lockdown measures.

“So we are being, I think, rightly cautious to make sure as we start to lift these restrictions we have as much certainty as we will ever have in a situation like this that we are not immediately going to be overtaken by the spread of the virus.”

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped that “as we come out of lockdown measures, initially we can come out as one country”.

But she said the intention was then to use tougher restrictions under the levels system in areas where there are “flare-ups”.

Ms Sturgeon stressed: “I hope that at least some substantial parts of the easing of lockdown can apply all across the country.

“It may very quickly for some parts to go faster, and I am talking more island and rural communities, in particular.”

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