Scotland’s First Minister has confirmed that West Dunbartonshire will join the rest of Scotland in emerging from almost all Covid-19 restrictions on Monday 9th August 2021.
In a statement to Parliament, the First Minister confirmed that falling infection rates and the success of the mass vaccination programme has made it possible to move beyond the current Level 0 status.
The legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings will be removed on 9th August when all venues across Scotland are able to re-open.
Some protective measures will stay in place such as the use of face coverings indoors and the collection of contact details as part of Test and Protect. Capacity limits of 2000 people indoors and 5000 people outdoors will also remain in place although some exceptions may be possible on a case by case basis. These will be reviewed on a three weekly basis to ensure they remain proportionate.
Adults identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will also no longer be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days from 9 August. Anyone who is double-vaccinated with at least two weeks passed since their second dose and who has no symptoms will be able to end self-isolation if they return a negative PCR test. The same conditions will also apply to anyone aged between five and 17 years old, even if they have not been vaccinated. The requirement to take a PCR test will not apply to children under the age of five.
Test and Protect will also implement revised guidance for under 18s. This means that the blanket isolation of whole classes in schools will no longer happen and a targeted approach, that only identifies children and young people who are higher risk close contacts, will be adopted. Fewer young people will have to self-isolate, and most will be asked to self-isolate for a much shorter period of time. To allow time to monitor the impacts of these changes, the majority of the mitigations that were in place in schools in the previous term will be retained for up to six weeks. This will help support a safe and sustainable return to education after the summer break.
While the gateway condition on vaccination has been met, with 92% of those over the age of 40 protected by two doses of the vaccine, there are still many more people who have not had the vaccine, cannot have it, or are not yet eligible for it. Invitations for vaccines are now going out to 12 to 17 year olds with specific health conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid. This follows the recent advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. We expect to have offered first doses to this group by the end of August.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“The move beyond level 0 will entail the lifting of most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions – most notably, on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings. It also means that from 9 August, no venues will be legally required to close.
“This change is significant and it is hard-earned. The sacrifices everyone has made over the past year and a half can never be overstated. However, while this move will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear that it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck.
“Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is in my view premature. The harm the virus can do, including through the impact of long Covid, should not be underestimated. And its ability to mutate may yet pose us real challenges.”
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister’s statement – 3 August 2021
Further detail about measures announced today and updated guidance for the education sector will be published shortly.
Further guidance will be provided to businesses to help them adopt measures to mitigate risks, including ensuring good ventilation; maintaining good hand hygiene; practising respiratory hygiene; getting vaccinated; and continuing to engage with Test and Protect.
Some baseline measures will remain in place:
- it will continue to be the law, subject to exceptions, that face coverings must be worn in indoor public places and on public transport;
- Test & Protect will continue to contact-trace positive cases. To assist with this there will be a continued requirement for indoor hospitality and similar venues to collect the contact details of customers. Anyone who is required to self-isolate will, if eligible, continue to have access to support;
- The government will work closely with local incident management teams on appropriate outbreak control measures;
- The government will continue to use travel restrictions, as and when necessary, to restrict the spread of outbreaks and protect against the risk of importation of new variants;
- for now, the government will continue to advise home working where possible, recognising that some staff will start to return to offices in line with staff wellbeing discussions and business need. The government will encourage employers to consider for the longer term, as the Scottish Government is doing, a hybrid model of home and office working – which may, of course, have benefits beyond the need to control a virus;
- The government will, for a limited period, keep in place a gateway process through which organisers of outdoors events of more than 5000 and indoor events of more than 2000 will have to apply for permission. This will allow the government and local authorities to be assured of the arrangements in place to reduce risk;
- The government will continue to issue appropriate guidance to assist individuals and businesses to reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible, such as rigorous hygiene, including regular hand washing.