Thousands of Scots who have been shielding throughout the coronavirus pandemic will see restrictions on who they can see and where they can go relaxed from tomorrow.
Nicola Sturgeon announced a major relaxation of the shielding guidelines at her daily Covid-19 briefing and added that specific advice for those shielding will no longer be provided from August 1.
The change means thousands of Scots will be able to see family, go to the shops, or head to the pub or to restaurants for the very first time since the beginning of lockdown exactly four months ago.
Those shielding will now be able to meet indoors with up to eight people from a maximum of two different households, meet outdoors with up to 15 people from a maximum of eight different households, and will be able to use public transport.
Shielders will also be able to go to pubs and restaurants, go to indoor shops, markets and pharmacies, visit museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas, and children of those shielding will also be able to attend formal childcare providers.
From August 1, if the infection rate remains as it is, the Scottish Government will then tell shielders to follow the same advice as the rest of the general public, meaning an imminent return to normality for that group.
The First Minister thanked everyone who had been shielding but added that she understood the changes could cause anxiety.
She said: “All these changes will be welcomed to many of you but they will also for many of you create a great deal of anxiety because you have been living in such a restricted way for so long and you will worry about going back to normal, that is completely understandable.
"We are not asking you to stop being careful and we do not want you to feel under pressure to do anything that you think is unsafe, in fact we want to everything we can to help you to feel as safe as possible."
The government will also provide advice and guidance for those who have been shielding about returning to work and school, as well as a risk assessment tool to help judge which activities are safe or less risky.
There will also be a Covid forecasting service for people who have been shielding which will inform people of the risk of being exposed to Covid based on local infection rates.
Ms Sturgeon added: "I want to thank everyone who has been shielding. You’ve had to remain in your house and largely apart from all other people, even people in your own household for months now.
"That has been incredibly tough and it’s easy for me to say that when the reality is I actually find it hard to fully imagine just difficult that must have been.
"By doing so you have protected yourselves, reassured your loved ones and you’ve helped our health and care services so a sincere and heartfelt thank you from me to each of you for that.”
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