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Coronavirus update: First Minister confirms Level 0 move

By David Porter

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In a statement made this afternoon First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has provided an update on restrictions, including the continued use of face-coverings.

She said: "This is a time for continued caution.

While Scotland will move to Level 0 from Monday we will do so with some modifications to our intended plans, this is to ensure that the pace of easing of restrictions is sensible in light of the challenge we continue to face from the delta variant.

"Some mitigations such as wearing face coverings will remain in place for some time to come.

"Measures like this not only give protection to the population as a whole but also protection and assurance to those amongst us who are particularly vulnerable and who previously had to shield

"Lifting all protections and mitigations right now would put all of us at risk, but in particular, much more difficult for the clinically vulnerable to go about their lives and would risk shielding by default."

She continued: "Vaccination continues to give us hope and I appeal to everyone to get vaccinated to get us back to normal.

"We have had to weigh up both positive and more challenging developments to get to today's decision

"The progress of the vaccine programme is positive and that case numbers appear to have fallen in recent days.

"But cases are still high and vaccines are continuing to break the link between the virus and serious illness.

"But there are still causes to be concerned, even three per cent of cases in hospital puts pressure on the hospital system and the pressure on the NHS is of concern.

"This puts more pressure on a workforce that has already given so much and every bed taken by a Covid patient is one less available to tackle the backlog of non-Covid care.

"Long Covid will still cause suffering and is one that we still don't fully understand and one of the reasons that we cannot be complacent on young people being infected.

"Even as our optimism continues to grow, the international situation is showing sharp rises in Spain, Portugal and Israel despite its high vaccination rate.

"As the delta variant becomes more dominant, we will see more resurgences.

"We understand the temptation to lift restrictions but a gradual approach stands the best chance of being sustainable.

"We are not slamming on the brakes but will do so with caution."

She said: "We are not easing up faster than is sensible."

Modifications which have been confirmed from the roadmap Level 0 include -

Midnight closing for hospitality not local licensing rules to mitigate additional risk.

Physical distancing in public places - indoor now reduced to 1m. For outdoor total numbers will remain limited for group gatherings, no requirement to distance in groups of up to 15 people but groups must distance from each other.

Working from home is postponed till beyond Level 0 to continue to support reduced transmission.

Commenting on the move Aberdeenshire MSP Gillian Martin said: “The planned changes to restrictions from next week will be welcome by many across the north-east.

“A calm, stable approach to the easing of restrictions is necessary in order to ensure we do all we can to protect one another from coronavirus while first and second doses of vaccinations are administered to those in lower age groups.

“As this continues, I would encourage everyone to continue to remember to social distance where required, wear a face mask and to practice safe hygiene.

"We’ve come a long way in the past 18 months and it is important we ensure the work back to normality continues safely and cautiously.”

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