Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland will begin to be loosened around April “if all goes according to plan”, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday.
According to the First Minister, non-essential shops, bars, restaurants, gyms, and hairdressers could see their doors open for business in parts of the country from the last week of that month, as the country is set to reimpose its tier system.
“It is therefore from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality, and services like gyms and hairdressers.
BREAKING: All level four areas in Scotland could move to level three in the last week of April.— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) February 23, 2021
FM @NicolaSturgeon says the plan is to move back to a system of levels again at this point.
Live updates ➡https://t.co/mUdBZT2Z25 pic.twitter.com/G1MG8cKCwt
The ‘stay at home’ law could also come to an end on 5 April, where 6 people from two households will be allowed to meet, as part of the new "roadmap" out of lockdown.
Primary four-seven pupils are also set for a return to school on 15 March, and four adults from two separate households will be permitted to meet outdoors from the same day.
Sturgeon told parliament that the "levels" system, which sees coronavirus limitations imposed a regional level depending on outbreak severity, would come back at the end of April.
Lockdown changes. The only questions I have is does any of the outdoor changes apply to private gardens 🌲🍺? Also has no one picked up that all children return to school at the start of the Easter holidays 😂 #lockdownroadmap #scotland #roadmap #routemap pic.twitter.com/2ISylieK1h— Greg Stark (@GregEdinburgh) February 23, 2021
The First Minister told MSPs that the five-level system will return and she hopes those placed into Level Four will be able to enter Level Three and all non-essential retail could reopen.
She said that "the more of us who are vaccinated and the more we all stick by the rules now, the faster that safe pace is likely to be – if we all stay in this together, our progress will be greater".
Sturgeon added that more detail would be confirmed in mid-March.
The Scottish Conservatives criticised the plan and urged for more clarity from the government.
"There is nothing for the thousands of Scots that have had medical treatment tests or operations canceled about when and how services will get back up to speed", said Ruth Davidson. "There is nothing about those who have already postponed huge life events like weddings for a year, about when they can walk down the aisle in front of family and friends".
She added that there is nothing related to when "measures like social distancing will end and when we can do something as basic as giving a loved one a hug".
The SNP did not produce a routemap out of COVID, they produced a holding document.— Scottish Conservatives (@ScotTories) February 23, 2021
The public has the right to be disappointed that Nicola Sturgeon is not giving them a plan to get back to normality. pic.twitter.com/InhUMPd2D8
Since January 5, mainland Scotland and some islands have remained under an effective total lockdown. Orkney, Shetland, and islands in the Highland and Argyll and Bute – with the exception of Skye – have been subject to less stringent measures.
Hopes have been raised across the entirety of the United Kingdom as the vaccination program is seen to have an impact on keeping citizens protected from the pandemic
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his plan on Monday to lift all restrictions in England by 21 June, with non-essential shops and retail re-opening on 12 April. Two households may also be allowed to mix in homes and a rule of six could potentially apply to pubs from mid-May.