Nicola Sturgeon in a face mask
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Covid lockdown curbs in Scotland will be relaxed from Monday but face masks will still be mandatory, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said that lifting all measures would “put all of us at greater risk” as she urged caution amid the spread of the Delta variant.
Scots should also continue to work from home where possible, as the FM also delayed the move back into offices.
In a separate divergence from curbs in England, the Scottish Government has also advised against all but essential international travel.
It comes as Boris Johnson has said people in England would be "expected" to wear a face mask, but the legal restriction to do so would be dropped later this month.
Around 3.8million clinically vulnerable people in England have been advised to avoid indoor spaces and consider not meeting people who are not double-jabbed, so ministers can ease face masks rules for others.
Ms Sturgeon, who made a different choice for Scots, said the relaxation of rules "will be a relief to the vast majority", and added: "But it will be a source of anxiety to some."
Boris Johnson at a press conference inside Downing Street
(Image: Getty Images)
And addressing those at "at the highest clinical risk", the FM said: "I know that many of you feel anxious about any easing of restrictions – particularly if you cannot have the vaccine, or have conditions, or are on treatments, that suppress your immune system.
'The Scottish Government is very aware of that. We will not abandon you. For as long as necessary we will ask people to take sensible precautions – like the wearing of face coverings – to allow you, like everyone else, to enjoy more normal life again."
“This is intended to ensure that our pace of easing restrictions is sensible in light of the challenge we continue to face from the Delta variant.
“And I will confirm that certain mitigations – such as the mandatory wearing of face coverings – will remain in place, not just now but, in all likelihood, for some time to come.
“Measures like the continued wearing of face coverings are important, not just to give added protection to the population as a whole, but also to give protection and assurance to those amongst us who are particularly vulnerable and previously had to shield.”
Coronavirus cases are on the rise across Scotland
(Image: Garry F McHarg / Daily Record)
Scottish ministers will drop the requirement to self-isolate for a close contact, as long as the contact has both jabs and a negative PCR test.
Moving to Level 0 in Scotland means that from Monday eight people from four households can meet indoors, and ten people from four households can meet in an indoor public place, such as a pub.
Fifteen people from 15 households will be able to meet outdoors.
Hospitality businesses can open until midnight, according to the new restrictions.
Mass stadium events will also be able to admit more people, with 2,000 seated patrons and 1,000 standing.
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Indoor events will be limited to 400 people.
The First Minister told a virtual meeting of MSPs that the “gradual return” planned for when Scotland moves to Level 0 would be pushed back until all the country moves beyond Level 0 – hoped to be on August 9.
She said: “Until then, we will continue to ask employers to support home working where possible.
“I know this will be disappointing for many businesses – and also some employees who are finding home-working hard.
“But this will reduce the extent to which people are meeting up in enclosed environments or travelling together, and so will help to contain transmission during this phase.”