More than two million Scots are leaving level 4 restrictions in a major review confirmed by Nicola Sturgeon today.
The First Minister announced the good news for business and residents who have put up with closures and tight travel rules since the end of November.
Glasgow and 10 neighbouring areas had been in the highest level 4 but will all drop down to level 3 on Friday.
Level four includes the closure of bars, pubs and restaurants, as well as the closure of non-essential retail and gyms. The rules can now be loosened in the run up to Christmas.
For areas moving to level 3, there are some welcome changes to daily life.
Pubs can open until 6pm but cannot serve alcohol. Shops which had been forced to shut can re-open.
Indoor gyms can offer individual exercised. It’s also good news for “close contact” services such as hairdressing. Visitor attractions are open with protective measures.
Socialising is still banned in each other’s homes, but six people from two households can meet in public places and outdoors.
Sturgeon also announced Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus will move from level 3 to level 2, allowing for more freedom in hospitality.
The Scottish Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway, move from level 2 to level 1.
The changes begin from Friday at 6pm. But retail premises in the current level 4 zones will be allowed to open from 6am on Friday to help regain some business and manage the flow of customers.
- Western Isles
- Dumfries and Galloway
- Scottish Borders
- Aberdeen City
- Argyll and Bute
- East Lothian
- Dundee City
- North Ayrshire
- Perth and Kinross
- East Ayrshire
- East Dunbartonshire
- East Renfrewshire
- North Lanarkshire
- South Ayrshire
- South Lanarkshire
- West Dunbartonshire
- West Lothian
Sturgeon confirmed the moves in a statement at the Scottish Parliament.
She said: “I would appeal to everyone living in level 4 areas to continue to exercise care and caution.
“As we know from our experience of Covid so far, progress can very easily go into reverse.
“So please continue to abide by the rules. That means, in particular, not visiting other people’s houses.”
There was bad news for Edinburgh, despite progress in infection levels.
Sturgeon explained: “The imminence of the Christmas period has also had an impact on our thinking. A move to level 2 in Edinburgh, would mean opening up significantly more services in Scotland’s second biggest city in the two weeks before Christmas.
“That move would carry significant risk of increased transmission. For that reason, we want as much assurance as possible that the situation is as stable as possible before making that move.”
The tiers system was supposed to allow for indoor mixing at level 1 but the decision was paused while infection levels were still fluctuating.
Until this week, only the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland were allowed that freedom.
Sturgeon today confirmed that from Friday the relaxation will extend to other inhabited islands in level 1 areas – but not to Skye which is connected by road to the mainland.
Travel restrictions will remain in place, Sturgeon confirmed.
It means no one in level 3 areas, or until Friday a level 4 area, should travel outside their council region for non essential reasons.
Sturgeon said: “I am afraid that means, for example, that people from outside Glasgow must not travel there to do Christmas shopping, when retail opens on Friday.”