Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon warns ‘Freedom Day’ applies to England only as restrictions ease and Scotland moves to Level 0

The whole of Scotland moved to the lowest level of its five-tier system on Monday as the counrty continues on its roadmap out of lockdown – but Nicola Sturgeon has warned Covid restrictions are being “eased, not abandoned”.

Face coverings in shops and public transport will remain mandatory for “some time to come”, while social distancing will reduce to one metre inside public places as the shift to Level 0 kicks in, the First Minister has said.

Ms Sturgeon has also warned so-called “freedom day” on Monday (July 19) applies to England only, tweeting: “As this chart shows, cases in (Scotland) are falling, but still too high.

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“To talk of tomorrow as ‘freedom day’ (England only remember) is not sensible IMO, given current situation.

“Vaccines going well and do offer route through – but as we vaccinate, we must ease up gradually.”

She added: ” If you live in or visiting (Scotland) please abide by remaining safety measures.

“Stick to group limits, keep 1m distance in public places, wear face masks, wash hands etc.

“While we vaccinate, these measures help keep us safe. More info available at gov.scot.”

All of Scotland drops to the lowest level of its five-tier system from Monday.

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As of Sunday, all adults who attended a scheduled appointment will have had their first dose of coronavirus vaccine, said the Scottish Government.

It is expected all adults in the country will have had their second jab by Sunday September 12.

Changes in Scotland include the easing of indoor gathering restrictions in homes to allow up to eight people from up to four households to meet, while a group of up to 10 can meet inside a pub or restaurant.

Meanwhile, “informal social gatherings” of up to 15 people from 15 households will be permitted outdoors without physical distancing, while up to 200 people can now gather at weddings and funerals.

Elsewhere, hospitality venues can stay open until midnight if they are licensed to do so, extended from the current curfew of 10pm.

Customers will no longer need to pre-book a two-hour slot, but must still provide contact details for Test and Protect.

She said: “If we do all of this, frustrating though it all continues increasingly to be, we will help protect ourselves and our loved ones.

“As we continue to complete the vaccination programme, which does offer us still the route back to greater normality, we will make it easier for more restrictions to be gradually and sensibly lifted in the weeks ahead.

“There is no doubt that Delta has become, unfortunately, something of a game-changer – even for countries on course to achieving full vaccine protection – so Covid does remain a threat that we must treat seriously.”

She said she understood the “temptation to lift more restrictions more quickly” but emphasised a “gradual approach stands the best chance of minimising further health harm and loss of life”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Because a gradual approach stands the best chance of being a sustainable approach, it will be better in the long term for the economy as well.”

August 9 has been set as an indicative date for when all main coronavirus restrictions will be lifted in Scotland, but ministers have set out an ongoing need for face masks and other basic measures to continue.

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