September 30, 2020

Coronavirus in Scotland: Relaxation of shielding to allow indoor visits

Visit to someone shielding Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said she acknowledged the “painful journey” of those who had been shielding for four months

People in Scotland considered to be at the greatest risk of Covid-19 will be able to go to pubs and restaurants with outdoor spaces from Friday.

Nicola Sturgeon said people shielding could also meet indoors with maximum of eight people from up to two households if physical distancing was maintained.

Visits to indoors shops or the hairdresser and using public transport will be allowed as well.

The changes come ahead of a “pause” in shielding guidelines from 1 August.

Giving her daily coronavirus briefing, the first minister acknowledged the “painful journey” of those in the shielding category over the past four months of lockdown.

“You’ve had to remain in your house and largely apart from all other people, even people in your own household, for months now,” she said.

“But by doing so you have protected yourselves, you’ve 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.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People in the shielding category will be able to visit pubs and restaurants with outdoors spaces

Ms Sturgeon said that the relaxation of restrictions was possible because of the way infection rates had slowed in Scotland over the past few weeks.

She compared the hundreds of new cases that were being reported each day at the beginning of April to the 16 new cases detected on Thursday.

Those new cases amounted to a 0.4% positive test rate – compared to 20% and above a few months ago – the first minister said.

Scotland has now also gone seven days without a new death of someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.

The shielding changes announced for Friday mean the children of those who are shielding will also be able to return to formal childcare provision.

However, this does not apply to children who are shielding.

What else will be allowed from 24 July?

  • Meetings outdoors with up to 15 people from four other households outdoors with physical distancing
  • Using public transport wearing a face covering
  • Visits to shops, pharmacies and indoor markets with a face covering
  • Visits to museums, galleries, libraries, cinemas and other visitor attractions with a face covering

Full guidance is available on the Scottish government website.

Ms Sturgeon said a “Covid forecasting service” was being developed for those in the shielding category, which will enable people to assess the infection risk in their local area.

The “pause” in shielding guidelines, which comes at the end of next week, will mean people will be able to return to the workplace.

The advice to those in the shielding category will then be the same as people at “heightened risk” – for example older people.

However, a resurgence in infections, either nationally or locally, could mean a return to restrictions or changes to current guidance.

Ms Sturgeon said it would “understandable” if people felt anxious after living in such a restricted way for so long.

“We are not asking you to stop being careful and we do not want you to feel under pressure to do anything you think is unsafe. In fact we want to do anything we can to help you feel as safe as possible,” she added.