Nicola Sturgeon raised the prospect of some Scottish Covid restrictions remaining in place into the autumn today as she postponed ending the country’s lockdown by three weeks.
The First Minister brought her country into line with England by pushing the country’s downgrading to Level Zero back to July 19 because of the spread of the Indian variant.
She pledged to scrap all laws covering Covid restrictions by August 9 – but admitted that Scots might well be asked to voluntarily continue social distancing and wear masks in some situations after that date. Scotland was meant to have its own relative Freedom Day on June 28, but rates of infection, particularly across the most populous central belt, led to today’s announcement.
Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood that life would feel ‘much, much less restrictive’ after August 9. She also pledged to ‘encourage support’ for continued home working after workplaces are fully able to reopen.
The setting of these dates is likely to raise pressure on Boris Johnson to set out what measures might remain in place after England’s Freedom Day on July 19. Ministers are yet to set out what mitigations like social distancing and mask wearing may remain in place, with Michael Gove leading an ongoing review.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross asked the First Minister about other mitigations which would be required beyond August 9. She said there may still be advice around physical distancing, even if it was not a legal requirement.
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘If you’re with somebody who’s not fully vaccinated, if you’re with somebody more vulnerable, if you’re in a place where the ventilation is not particularly good, it would make sense to continue to pay attention to a safe distance to people that are not in your close contact group.’