‘NO guarantee’ lockdown won’t return, warns Scottish health minister as restrictions end across country TODAY with clubbers toasting Freedom Day at the stroke of midnight
- Scotland has removed its coronavirus restrictions with distancing rules scrapped from venues from today
- The news prompted revellers to pack out nightclubs across the country as soon as the clock hit midnight
- However, SNP health secretary Humza Yousaf was quick to warn that lockdown restriction could later return
- Mr Yousaf said it would take new variant from across the world that could make ‘big difference’ to restrictions
Coronavirus restrictions have been removed in Scotland prompting clubbers to pack out venues across the country from midnight – despite SNP health secretary Humza Yousaf warning there is no guarantee lockdown won’t return.
Legal requirements for physical distancing – except in healthcare settings – have been removed and all venues, including nightclubs, are now able to reopen. Some measures, such as the requirement to wear face coverings indoors in public places and on public transport, will stay in place.
Clubbers were quick to take advantage of Freedom Day with revellers dancing and drinking from the stroke of midnight.
However, SNP health minister Humza Yousaf was quick to warn of the risks of a new variant triggering another lockdown ahead of the easing of restrictions.
Mr Yousaf told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show: ‘All it takes of course is a new variant to come from somewhere halfway across the world to make its way into Scotland.
‘And depending on how effective our vaccine is against it, that could make a big, big difference in terms of restrictions.’
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also warned of future lockdowns, telling the BBC this morning that no politician could ‘guarantee’ that restrictions will never be reimposed.
She also said that face coverings on public transport and in shops will stay in place for ‘as long as necessary’.
Joanna Traynor, Amy Evans and Robyn Spence arrives at Lulu’s night club in Edinburgh, Scotland as it opens at 0:01
Legal requirements for physical distancing – except in healthcare settings – have been removed and all venues, including nightclubs, are now able to reopen
The First Minister told MSPs last week that the country could move beyond Level 0, the lowest level of a five-tier system of restrictions in Scotland, due to the ‘steady decline in cases’ and ‘the success of vaccination’.
Under the new rules, double-vaccinated adults and all children will be able to avoid self-isolation if they are a close contact of someone with coronavirus so long as they are symptomless and provide a negative PCR test.
Pupils and teachers will have to continue wearing masks indoors for up to six weeks after schools return, the Government has said.
But whole classes in schools will no longer have to stay at home if an infection is discovered, although children and adults who are higher-risk close contacts will be told to isolate.
Outdoors events of more than 5,000 people and indoor events of more than 2,000 will have to apply for permission from local authorities and the Government to go ahead.
When announcing the lifting of further restrictions, Nicola Sturgeon hailed Monday as ‘perhaps the most significant date so far’ in the pandemic.
She has since stated that Scotland is in a ‘much better position’ with Covid than could have been expected at the start of summer but urged Scots to ‘continue to take sensible precautions’ despite many of the legal coronavirus rules being lifted from Monday.
Scotland’s Freedom Day: What happens from August 9?
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a raft of changes will come into effect on August 9.
- Social distancing
- Size limits on public gatherings
- Self-isolation for people aged five and over who pass a PCR test
- Blanket self-isolations for whole school classes
- Face coverings in public indoor spaces
- Masks for secondary pupils and one-metre social distancing by schools staff for six weeks from September
- Contact tracing of positive cases – pubs and restaurants must collect customer details
- Advice to work from home
- Special permission required for some mass events to take place
Health minister Mr Yousaf also added: ‘I think we would expect cases to rise as people interact more, potentially in bigger numbers, but also when schools return as well.
‘There’s perhaps some sense of an artificial break when it’s the summer holidays. So we would expect [a rise in cases] but of course we are continuing to vaccinate people which is the real positive.
‘But that of course is why we’re keeping some mitigations absolutely in place.
‘Our modelling hopefully will be able to tell us that the pressure we’re feeling in the NHS hopefully will remain in a place where we can cope with that, but of course that’s why these measures continue to always be kept under review.’
Despite the warnings, Scotland’s nightclubbers vowed to be ‘out every night’ as the easing of coronavirus restrictions allowed venues to reopen for the first time in more than a year.
In Glasgow, dancers took to the floor at the Boteco Do Brasil club.
Martin Stewart, 24, from the city, was among the crowd and said he was glad to be back.
‘It’s been a long wait – I’ll be out till closing,’ he said.
At the nearby Polo Lounge, an LGBTQ inclusive club, revellers chanted and screamed as the clock struck midnight and the doors re-opened.
Luke Dunsmuir, 19, from Strathbungo, said he was eager to get back.
‘I’ve been nightclubbing since I was 15,’ he said. ‘Oot and aboot.’
He said with clubs closed he had missed meeting different people and networking with others.
He said he wasn’t worried about Covid-19 as he was double-vaccinated.
‘The only worry was older people, that was the only worry for me, but the younger generation the percentage of them getting Covid is so low,’ he said.
He said his next few weeks would be ‘busy busy’.
‘Out every night, just you wait, you’ll be seeing my face everywhere,’ he added.
In the city’s centre people queued round the block outside the Savoy nightclub.
Mark Grant, 19, and Johnny Matthews, 21, both from the Southside, were among those waiting to get back inside.
Mr Grant said he only had two months of clubbing when he turned 18 before the country locked down.
Under the new rules, double-vaccinated adults and all children will be able to avoid self-isolation if they are a close contact of someone with coronavirus so long as they are symptomless and provide a negative PCR test
SNP health minister Humza Yousaf was quick to warn of the risks of a new variant triggering another lockdown ahead of the easing of restrictions
‘I spent most of my 18 inside so it’s been good to get back out,’ he said.
‘It’s a huge part of our teenage life – especially teens to early twenties – it’s a huge part of it, and we’ve not had it. So we have a lot of time to make up for,’ he said.
Mr Matthews said: ‘I’m buzzing – I’ve got Monday off work, I put a holiday in’.
He said he was double vaccinated but would be taking precautions.
‘We will be wearing the mask, but it should be all right,’ he said.
He added: ‘It’s a good laugh, cheap drinks, so it’s good to get back.’
Nightclubs were among the last venues to reopen in Scotland, long after bars were allowed to welcome back customers.
Following initial confusion last week, the Scottish Government clarified that masks would not have to be worn when dancing or drinking.
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