Shetland could see eased restrictions next month – but ban on travel between mainland may continue

Shetland could see Covid-19 restrictions eased by the end of next month, the First Minister has announced.

Nicola Sturgeon said island communities currently under level three restrictions could consider a move to level two from 26th April.

However, she also said restrictions on travel between the islands and mainland Scotland could continue.

Travel restrictions across mainland Scotland are due to be lifted on 26th April as it moves into level three. 

But with restrictions on socialising and hospitality set to be relaxed more quickly on the islands, Ms Sturgeon said there may be a need to prevent travel to and from the mainland. 

She said this would be to protect island communities from importation of the virus.

“However, rather than just impose that decision now, we intend to discuss that directly with them to to determine what arrangement they consider will work best,” she added.

Level two restrictions allow groups of up to six people from two households to meet indoors.

Cinemas, libraries and community centres can open, with appropriate guidelines in place. 

Hospitality businesses can also open for longer and are permitted to serve alcohol with a meal, or outdoors. 

Pubs that do not serve food, however, must remain closed under level two. 

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped the steps outlines would offer “reassurance that brighter days are ahead of us”. 

She said the announcements had been made possible due to the significant fall in case numbers and the progress with the vaccination programme.

During April, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland was expected to achieve the important milestone of reaching all over 50s and priority groups with their first dose.

She said that group covered around 99 per cent of all Covid-related deaths.

More minor easing to the restrictions is also set to take place earlier in the month, mainly affecting mainland areas.

From 2nd April the “stay at home” rule is set to be replaced by a “stay local” message, with restrictions on travel out of local authority areas. 

Contact sports for 12-17 year olds is set to resume from 5th April. Students in further education are also hoped to begin the more widespread return to campus learning, starting with those with greatest need. 

Ms Sturgeon said all easing of restrictions was dependent on continued progress in suppressing the virus and rolling out the vaccine.

She noted that a slight increase in cases over the past week demonstrated the need for caution. 


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