March 2020 lockdown: key dates and how latest Covid rules in Scotland compare on national day of reflection

Coronavirus lockdown measures announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in January 2021 are beginning to ease

A year on from the first lockdown to suppress Covid, Scotland holds hope of “brighter days” ahead as restrictions begin to ease after the latest wave of infections.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced tougher restrictions for mainland Scotland and Skye on Tuesday 5 January 2021 to limit the spread of coronavirus.

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The majority of the Scottish public can only leave their homes for essential purposes such as food shopping, exercise, caring duties or being part of an extended household.

The streets were deserted in March 2020. (Pic: PA)
The streets were deserted in March 2020. (Pic: PA)

The latest restrictions will begin to relax in the run up to the summer, with some key dates over the coming weeks, which sees the stay-at-home order scrapped on 2 April.

On a national day of reflection, we look at that first lockdown imposed 12 months ago.

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What were the restrictions of Scotland's first lockdown?

In essence, it was a stay at home message from both the UK and Scottish governments which came into effect on 23 March 2020.

The lockdown was initially planned for three weeks but lasted much longer as the coronavirus spread across the country amid rising infection rates.

To help slow the spread Ms Sturgeon ordered for all non-essential shops to close, as well as libraries, communal places with parks and places of worship.

A ban was put on gatherings and social events, including weddings and christenings, and funerals were restricted to immediate family members only.

People could only leave their homes for essential food shopping, medical assistance, daily exercise or for work where that could not be done from home.

Scotland had already closed its schools, gyms, restaurants, pubs and cancelled or postponed mass events by this stage, along with the rest of the UK.

What are the second lockdown restrictions across Scotland?

Ms Sturgeon announced the introduction of a legally enforceable stay at home order for Scotland just a few hours before Boris Johnson’s national address on Monday 4 January.

The First Minister said that most of Scotland - mainland and Skye - would be placed in lockdown for the rest of January, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid.

There are exemptions to the rules for carers, essential shopping, unlimited outdoor exercise and being part of an extended household through support bubbles.

Schools and nurseries remain closed for most pupils until February, with home learning in place.

Are there any differences between the two lockdowns?

Unlike in March 2020, when the Scottish Premiership and other sports were suspended, elite sport can continue across Scotland. Though no supporters are allowed to attend.

Another difference this time around allows two people from two separate households to meet outdoors for sport, exercise or social interaction while maintaining social distancing. Children under 12 are not included in these restrictions. This is unlike the first lockdown when you could only exercise by yourself or with your own household.

Outdoor visitor attractions such as playgrounds, parks and gardens and the outdoor areas of zoos remain open unlike before, as well as public toilets.

Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships are also allowed to take place this time around, when they had to be postponed in the first lockdown, with a maximum capacity of five people and social distancing measures observed. Post ceremony receptions are still not allowed to take place.

There can be a maximum of 20 people allowed to attend a funeral, again observing social distancing, but no wakes permitted. Funerals could only be attended by the immediate family members in the first lockdown.

If you are being asked to shield then you can leave your home for exercise or medical appointments during the latest lockdown. Those shielding in the first lockdown were asked to stay at home at all times.

While people living alone can form an extended household and couples who do not live together can form a bubble, which includes any children each person has. None of which was allowed in March 2020.