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Scottish people can meet friends and family outside

Coronavirus: First Minister says lockdown easing begins on 29 May

Mark Moran
28 May 2020
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon


Changes to Scotland’s lockdown restrictions have been confirmed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. People in Scotland will be able to meet friends and family outside from Friday 29 May.

While some outdoor activity restrictions will ease as of Friday, the public are still urged to stay at home as much as possible and maintain strict physical distancing when outdoors.

From tomorrow, two households will be allowed to meet in outdoor spaces up to a suggested maximum of eight people. However, it is important that physical distancing and hygiene rules are maintained.

Members of two different households will be allowed to meet up, as long as they remain outdoors in a park or private garden and stay 2-metres apart.

The relaxation is an element the first phase of the Scottish Government’s route map towards reopening society while attempting to suppress the virus. The First Minister said the move would allow people to meet with one other household at a time. However, they will need to remain outdoors and in groups of no more than eight.

Scotland has been in lockdown since 23 March and did not make major changes to restrictions when they were announced for England earlier this month.
From Friday, most outdoor work that has been put on hold can resume.

Garden centres will begin opening their doors again and site preparation beginning in the construction industry, with recycling centres re-opening from Monday.

People will be allowed to sit out and sunbathe in parks and open areas, and travel within their local area for exercise. However, the First Minister said she did not want to see crowds of people heading to beauty spots.

Announcing the measures, the First Minister said: “The only reason the Scottish Government can make these changes today is because of the sacrifices that all of you have made. So thank you, to each and every one of you. No change will be risk free - and there are no certainties. While I am confident of that, there is also the chance that even these limited changes will lead to much greater change in reality.

“So please act within the rules. Be respectful of each other’s space, be kind, be prepared for things to be very different and remember that each individual decision you take affects the wellbeing of all of us. How well we follow these practices now determines whether we can go further in the future. We can only take these steps towards a less restricted lifestyle, and then consider taking further steps, if people continue to obey the guidance.

“My advice is to stay home as much as possible – the virus has not gone away. If you have symptoms, get tested; wash your hands and surfaces regularly; and if you do meet family or a friend stay outdoors. Don’t put them or yourself at risk.

“People who are shielding will be well into their third month of isolation, of not being able to leave the house at all. They are uppermost in our thoughts as we think about how to safely come out of lockdown and we’ll provide more information for them in the coming weeks.

“We can only take these steps towards a less restricted lifestyle because people have, overwhelmingly, stuck to the guidance. And we will be able to take more steps more quickly in the future – if we continue to do the right thing, and to stick to the rules.”

Measures that will come into force in Phase 1 include:

From 29 May

  • One household can now meet up with another outdoors. This can be in one household’s garden, but physical distancing is still required. It is expected households will only meet one other household within the same day and up to a recommended maximum of eight people in the overall group.
  • Public outdoor spaces can now be used for recreational purposes, for example to sit in a park, sunbathe or have a picnic. People should not share food and drink between households and should avoid using shared facilities, such as bathrooms. If eating, each household should bring their own food separately and avoid sharing utensils, dishes or cups and use a hand sanitiser before eating. Physical distancing between households should be maintained at all times.
  • People can travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but should remain in their local area, suggested to be five miles from their house, although people are asked to use their judgement. People are encouraged to walk, wheel or cycle where possible.
  • Most outdoor workplaces to resume with physical distancing measures in place once guidance is agreed, including horticulture, landscaping and garden centres, forestry and environmental management. Associated cafés should not reopen at this stage except for take-away and physical distancing measures should be followed.
  • The construction sector is expected to be able to implement the first phase in its restart plan. A move to ‘Phase 2’ of the construction sector’s plan will follow consultation with government to ensure it is safe to do so in line with public health advice.
  • Food outlets, restaurants and cafes are able to provide delivery, take-away and drive-through food options in line with guidance and complying and safe physical distancing measures.
  • Unrestricted outdoor exercise and some non-contact outdoor activities within the local area – such as golf, outdoor tennis and angling – can resume provided physical distancing is followed. It does not mean that taking part will always be safe. People should use judgement and take part only if they can do so safely, maintaining physical distancing.

From 1 June

  • Staff can return to schools subject to risk assessments and appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures being in place to support this. This is to plan and prepare for the new blended model of learning to be implemented from 11 August.
  • Household Waste Recycling Centres to begin to reopen. Sites must operate safely, ensuring physical distancing is maintained, and should only be visited when absolutely necessary to minimise journeys.

From 3 June

  • Child minding services and fully outdoor nursery provision will be available, although capacity will be limited. Both measures will be subject to increased hygiene measures, small group working and physical distancing of adults.

The Phase 1 guidance can be found by clicking here

The Scottish route map

The Scottish government has identified four phases for easing the restrictions:

  • Phase 1: Virus not yet contained but cases are falling. From 28 May people should be able to meet another household outside in small numbers. Sunbathing is allowed, along with some outdoor activities like golf and fishing. Garden centres and drive-through takeaways can reopen, some outdoor work can resume, and childminding services can begin.
  • Phase 2: Virus controlled. People can meet larger groups outdoors, and meet another household indoors. Construction, factories, warehouses, laboratories and small shops can resume work. Playgrounds and sports courts can reopen, and professional sport can begin again.
  • Phase 3: Virus suppressed. People can meet people from more than one household indoors. Non-essential offices would reopen, along with gyms, museums, libraries, cinemas, larger shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and dentists. Live events could take place with restricted numbers and physical distancing restrictions. Schools should reopen from 11 August.
  • Phase 4: Virus no longer a significant threat. University and college campuses can reopen in full, mass gatherings are allowed. All workplaces open and public transport is back at full capacity.

The route map can be found by clicking here

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