Sturgeon tightens level zero rules around hospitality and delays changes to working from home

Level zero rules are to be tightened when the rest of Scotland moves into the lowest tier of restrictions next week.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the entire country would move to level zero from Monday, as previously indicated, but also noted some changes to what it would mean.

She said the move was  possible thanks to  progress with the vaccination programme – though high case numbers and the Delta variant also required modifications to previous plans. 

It means restrictions in Shetland, which has been operating at level zero since June, will be increased slightly.

Ms Sturgeon said the main changes would be for hospitality venues, which must close at midnight, rather than following local licensing laws.

She said that despite the “sterling efforts” of hospitality businesses, venues remained “relatively risky environments”, particularly late at night.

There will also be a requirement to maintain physical distancing outdoors, which will have some impact on events.

Ms Sturgeon said she had hoped to remove all physical distancing requirements outdoors and thereby the limit on the number of people who can gather outdoors. 

However, group gatherings will be capped at 15 from 15 households – and people must maintain one metre physical distancing between separate groups of 15.

The finance and economy secretary is to work with organisers to see whether events can go ahead within the changes restrictions. 

Working from home is also set to continue.

Ms Sturgeon said that while the move to level zero had been hoped to begin the gradual return to the office, the current situation required a delay until at least 9th August, when further easing is expected.

She accepted the move would be disappointing for many businesses and some employees who were finding it hard working from home. 

The requirement to wear face masks indoors in public is also to remain for some time yet.

“I hope the move to level zero, albeit in a modified form will be welcome,” Ms Sturgeon said. 

“It’s not a complete and wholesale lifting of all restrictions – it was never intended to be – however it does restore yet more freedoms to all of us.

“It’s worth emphasising that we’re no longer in lockdown, nothing like it, life is much more like normal than at any time since the start of the pandemic.”

Ms Sturgeon also outlined changes to self-isolation requirements.

From Monday, people arriving from amber list countries will no longer have to self-isolate, provided they are fully vaccinated and take a negative PCR test on the second day after arriving. 

From 9th August, it is also hoped that the blanket requirement for everyone in close contact with a positive case to self-isolate will no longer apply to those who are doubled jabbed and record a negative test. 

In a thinly veiled criticism of the UK government, Ms Sturgeon said it was her view that leaders should do what is necessary to ensure compliance with important measures. 

“We should be prepared to take any resulting flack from those who disagree,” she said. 

“We shouldn’t lift important restrictions to make our lives easier and then expect the public to take responsibility for doing the right thing.”


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