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Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland

Mainland Scotland and some islands are currently in lockdown with a stay at home guidance.

Second phase of return to education from March 15 confirmed

All primary school pupils are due to return to school from Monday, March 15, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

And all secondary school pupils will be given some time in school between March 15 and the Easter break, with a full return after the Easter break.

It was stressed that the changes would take effect unless concerns around the spread of the virus arise in the meantime.

An update on changes to Level 4 restrictions from March 15 is due to be presented to the Scottish Parliament next week, with a firmer timetable for what will happen after April 26 to be outlined a week later.

Support was also given for the resumption of competitive football in Scottish League 1 and 2, the Scottish Women’s Premier League 1, and certain Highland League teams for the purposes of playing Scottish Cup ties.

Vaccination update

The First Minister says the vaccination rollout remains on course to offer a first dose to all the over 50s, all unpaid carers and all adults with an underlying health condition by mid-April.

She added that there may be some vaccine supply issues which could affect appointments but are not expected to affect the mid-April target.

Case continue to decline, statistics suggest, with the average test positivity rate now below 5% in Scotland, as well as a fall in hospital admissions and of those in intensive care.

Second phase of return to education

The next phase of reopening education will take place on Monday, March 15.

On that date, all children from P4-7 will go back to school on a full-time basis. All primary school children will also be able to return to regulated childcare, including after school and breakfast clubs.

A phased return to secondary schools from 15 March will also take place, with the expectation that all secondary school pupils will be back in school on a full-time basis following the Easter holidays.

Between March 15 and the Easter break, students in the senior phase of secondary school (S4-S6) who are taking national qualifications will have priority for face-to-face lessons in school.

All children in secondary school will receive some in-school education each week up to the Easter break and then returning to full time following that.

Local authorities are being given flexibility in how to implement the phased return, to allow councils to take account of local factors in deciding how to make the return as safe as possible. And as outlined above, the changes are dependent on continued good progress in reducing transmission of the virus.

Safety in schools

The current requirement for 2m physical distancing in secondary schools will continue until at least Easter and, when secondary schools return, face coverings will need to be worn at all times.

Lateral flow testing for all school staff in primary, secondary and special schools, and all secondary school pupils in years 4, 5 and 6 will continue to be offered twice-weekly.

The First Minister went on to thank education staff, pupils and parents for their efforts and support over the past few months.

“The final point I want to make here is to say thank you – firstly to all school leadership teams, and all school staff, including of course all teachers, for everything that that has been done to support our children and young people in the last few months,” she said.

“I know everyone is looking forward to having children back in the classroom as soon as possible.

“I also want to thank parents across the country. I can only imagine how difficult all of this disruption continues to be - but I hope, and I believe, that the end of it is now firmly in sight.

“And my thanks too to children and young people. I know how hard it must be to be separated from friends and teachers. But you have responded magnificently to all the difficulties of the past year.

“I hope that you are looking forward to getting back to school later this month. And I hope that you will start to feel life become a lot more normal very soon.”

Guidance for parents of newborn children

Guidance for parents of newborn children is being updated to clarify when entry is permitted into other people’s homes for essential purposes.

It was confirmed that providing support for the welfare and wellbeing of a parent of a child who is under the age of one is indeed considered to be an essential purpose.

Keeping the momentum

Although things are moving positively at the moment, the First Minster urged the nation to continue to observe the restrictions that are in place so that progress can be maintained.

She said: “All of us want to move on as quickly as possible and, as a priority, to see friends and family again. This will very much be the focus of our considerations over the next few weeks and I hope the day for that is not too far away.

“But to make sure we don’t see any reverse in our progress that would put that in jeopardy, it is really important that, for now, we all need to abide by the lockdown rules.

“So please continue to stick to their letter and their spirit.”

Upcoming changes to restrictions

From February 22nd early learning and childcare reopened, along with the reopening of schools for pupils in P1-3 and some senior phase secondary school pupils who have essential practical work to compete.

The routine indoor visiting of care home residents by relatives, friends and carers resumes from early March, with care providers supporting residents to have up to two designated visitors each and one visit a week for each visitor.

All further phases of the framework will take effect at intervals of at least three weeks, in line with World Health Organization guidelines. The order of changes is planned as follows:

After a minimum of three weeks (indicatively from March 15):

  • A second phase of the reopening of schools
  • A phased return of a further small number of priority students for in-person learning
  • Non-contact outdoor group sports for 12-17-year-olds will resume, subject to guidance
  • Socialising rules will be eased to allow outdoor meetings of up to four people from two households

After a minimum of a further three weeks (indicatively from April 5):

  • The ‘Stay at Home’ requirement will be removed
  • Places of worship will be able to open on a restricted numbers basis
  • The list of essential retailers will be expanded slightly and ‘click and collect’ will resume for non-essential retail
  • Socialising rules will be further eased to allow outdoor meetings of up to six people from two households

After a minimum of a further three weeks (indicatively from April 26):

  • Scotland will return to a levels-based approach to restrictions
  • There will be limited other easings within Level 4, including permitting non-essential work in people’s homes

The full Coronavirus (COVID-19): Strategic Framework update is available on the Scottish Government website.

Changes to council services

As the impact on the delivery of council services becomes clearer over the coming days, further information will be available via the Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

FACTS 

The five principles behind the FACTS campaign remain a priority:

  • Face coverings
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Clean hands and surfaces
  • Two metre distancing
  • Self-isolation if you have symptoms