Every key date and phase of Scotland's routemap out of lockdown explained

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 3:38 pm

Scotland’s roadmap out of lockdown has been revealed by Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister unveiled a “revised strategic framework” in the form of four phases, which detailed how restrictions will be gradually lifted in the country.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 23 February, she announced the reopening of the economy, including shops, hospitality, gyms and hairdressers, as well as detailing a return to the levels system that was in place before the lockdown.

It follows Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday of England’s roadmap out of lockdown, with a four-step exit strategy to reopen the country starting on 8 March.

So, what did Ms Sturgeon announce - and what are the four phases?

Here is everything you need to know.

What did Nicola Sturgeon say?

The First Minister set out an overall “cautious” approach to easing Covid restrictions over the next few weeks.

It came in the form of four phases, with the first phase beginning now with the partial reopening of schools.

The more “substantial” reopening of the economy, including the opening of non-essential retail and hospitality, could happen during the last phase from late April onwards.

Scotland will also move fully back into a levels system from the last week in April, depending on the progress of the vaccinations programme.

It is hoped that all parts of the country currently in Level 4 will be able to move down into Level 3 then.

The government will publish another document in mid-March which will give more detail on reopening the economy from late April, including plans for May and into summer.

It will also “seek to accelerate” the easing of restrictions in the coming weeks if the “positive trends continue”, the First Minister said.

However, travel restrictions are likely to remain essential “for some time yet”, Ms Sturgeon warned, to guard against the importation of new variants of the virus.

“I am as confident as I can be that the indicative, staged, timetable that I have set out today - from now until late April when the economy will start to substantially re-open - is a reasonable one,” she said.

“In mid March - when we have made further progress on vaccines and have greater understanding of the impact of the initial phase of school return - I hope we can set out then more detail of the further reopening that will take place over April and May and into a summer when we hope to be living with much greater freedoms than we are today.”

What are the four phases?

There will be a “progressive easing” of the current Level 4 restrictions that apply across most of the country at intervals of at least three weeks.

However, each phase is dependent on the continued suppression of the virus.

The different phases, with indicative dates, are:

First phase - between now and early March

The first easing started on 22 February with the phased return of schools, Ms Sturgeon said.

Universities and colleges are also able to bring back a small number of students for critical face-to-face teaching.

Restrictions on care home visiting will also be eased from early March.

Second phase - indicatively 15 March

The next phase of the school return could happen from 15 March, starting with primary years four to seven and more senior phase secondary pupils at least part-time.

Outdoors non-contact group sports for 12 to 17-year-olds could restart then.

The limit on outdoor mixing between households could also be increased to four people from a maximum of two households.

Third phase - indicatively 5 April

The “stay at home” restriction could be lifted from 5 April.

It is hoped that the final phase of the school return could also happen then.

Communal worship could restart on this date, but with restricted numbers.

Restrictions on outdoor gatherings may also be eased so six people from two households could meet up.

Retailers could start to reopen from this date, beginning with an extension of “essential retail” services and the removal of click-and-collect restrictions.

Last phase - indicatively 26 April

If the data allows, Scotland will move back into the levels system with the hope that the whole country will move into Level 3.

A “phased but significant” reopening of the economy could happen on this date, with non-essential retail opening back up.

Hospitality - bars, restaurants and pubs - may also reopen then, as well as services like gyms and hairdressers.