On Tuesday 3 August, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland will begin following in England’s footsteps and drop further Covid-19 restrictions from Monday 9 August.
This means that larger groups will be allowed in various settings, such as concerts, pubs and restaurants.
Those who have come into contact with individuals who have tested positive no longer have to isolate from Monday, provided that they are double-vaccinated and test negative.
On the whole, most rules regarding social distancing will be scrapped. This means that from Monday, nightclubs will reopen and larger gatherings will be permitted in public spaces.
Face masks, however, must be worn in most public settings. Additionally, track and trace regulations in most shops and hospitality venues will remain in place.
Yet, despite this easing of restrictions, Ms Sturgeon was quick to highlight that she would re-impose local restrictions if the government deemed it necessary, saying that the government “will seek to take whatever action is necessary to keep the country safe”.
Speaking to The Student, a student at the University of Edinburgh voiced their concerns about the Scottish government’s announcement, stating:
“The messaging is very muddled – we are now at a point known as ‘beyond level zero’, and yet a number of restrictions will still be in place? This is before you acknowledge the absurdity of face masks being worn in nightclubs of all places!”
Ms Sturgeon confirmed that a “gradual approach” in the return of individuals to offices is necessary, warning that the virus still brings “real challenges”. Employees should expect a hybrid model of work, with a mixture of in-office and at-home work.
She stated: “Declaring freedom from or victory over this virus is in my view premature.”
The first minister remarked upon the fall in number of new Covid-19 cases from the peak of the third wave. Positive tests and patient admissions have dropped as well, Sturgeon confirmed.
The Scottish government is yet to announce whether a vaccination certificate will be necessary for individuals entering higher-risk events, such as concerts.
Ms Sturgeon did confirm that a “covid status certification” app was in the works, but she was “considering very carefully” the ethical concerns that come with vaccination certification.
While Ms Sturgeon commented on the vaccination programme’s success, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has demanded a greater push to get more young people vaccinated.
He has criticised the government’s current efforts, stating in a virtual session of the Scottish parliament:
“As we move ‘beyond level zero’ it is important that we do everything to protect the freedom people can now enjoy again. It means retooling our vaccination effort to target those places where it lags and preparing it for the next big challenge.”
Mr Sarwar later in the parliament highlighted that:
“In recent weeks, the 7-day rate of vaccinations has reduced and there are still thousands of young people awaiting their first, never mind, second dose. We should be doing all we can to remove barriers to vaccination and encourage uptake.”
The Scottish government will release further details preceding the easing of restrictions commencing on Monday.
Image: Dumbarton and Vale of Leven reporter