Scotland’s five-mile travel limit has been lifted and self-contained holiday accommodation can now reopen as Covid-19 restrictions continue to be eased across the nation.
With the country now in phase two of its lockdown exit plan, several restrictions have been relaxed across the country. However, the changes to the five-mile rule do not apply to at risk areas in Dumfries and Galloway.
The rest of Scotland will be able to drive as far as they like from today (July 3), as restrictions around self-catering accommodation and visiting second homes are softened.
The measure in the south-west is the first of its type to be imposed locally rather than nationally in Scotland, but Nicola Sturgeon made clear it was not a “local lockdown” similar to the one seen in Leicester in England this week.
A total of ten positive cases have been identified, the First Minister said, and staff at three workplaces with connection to those cases are in the process of being tested today.
Ms Sturgeon said she was “hopeful” the outbreak would be contained, but said the government must act on a “precautionary basis”.
She implored those living in the affected area to continue to follow the five mile travel guidance until after the weekend to allow for contract tracing and testing to be completed.
She said: “We are very hopeful that this outbreak will be contained - and I should stress there is no evidence at this stage to suggest otherwise. But until contact tracing and testing has been completed, we cannot be absolutely sure of that.
“If you have plans to travel into these areas over the weekend to visit or stay, you should follow the travel advice while there. If you run a business in these areas, including at the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village, please be extra vigilant about hygiene and physical distancing. In addition, care homes in those five areas will unfortunately not be able to welcome visitors this weekend.
“And generally, to people in these areas - until we conclude the management of this outbreak, please assume there is a higher risk of infection just now and take particular care to follow all public health advice.
“And remember, I’m sorry about this, the five-mile limit means you should not travel to pubs south of the border this weekend.
Two metre rule
At her daily Covid-19 briefing on Thursday, the First Minister also said the two-metre social distancing rule can be reduced in the hospitality and retail sectors and on public transport from the same date.
Pubs, restaurants and shops will be allowed to adhere to a one-metre rule instead, as long as mitigation measures such as Perspex screens are in place
From 15 July, indoor pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen. The First Minister also confirmed outdoor hospitality - such as pavement cafes and beer gardens - can open from Monday, and self-contained holiday accommodation, such as cottages and lodges, can reopen from today.
Ms Sturgeon said the science on physical distancing has not changed and there is an increased risk of somewhere between two and ten-fold in reducing the measure to one metre.
But she said that as the number of infected individuals falls, there is less chance of coming into contact with someone who has the virus so absolute risk is lower.
She added that the Scottish Government recognises the two-metre rule has benefits, but it also has “serious economic implications” which can impact on people’s health.
She said: “For those reasons when we enter stage three of the route map, which I hope will be the end of next week, we will allow exemptions for specific sectors where agreed mitigations must be put in place.”
These mitigations in the hospitality sector include “no standing - all customers seated” and face coverings being worn by staff.
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