Scottish lockdown easing ‘likely’ to be delayed until July
The easing of Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland is likely to be pushed back by three weeks, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The whole country had been due to move to the lowest level zero of its five-tier system from 28 June.
However Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that this was likely to be be delayed by three weeks so that more people can be vaccinated against the virus.
The Covid case rate in Scotland is five times higher than it was in early May.
Ms Sturgeon said that "we need to buy sufficient time for vaccination to get ahead and stay ahead of the virus, and that is the reason for caution at this juncture".
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that plans to lift restrictions in England would be pushed back by four weeks until 19 July.
A formal decision on what level each area of Scotland will be in will not be taken until next week, but Ms Sturgeon said it was "reasonable to indicate now that I think it unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level" as planned.
It means the country's mainland council areas will remain in either level one or level two, although many island communities including Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are already in level zero.
Vicki Unite, Chief Executive of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, said:
“I know businesses in Perthshire have become used to continuing setbacks, but the overriding feeling will be frustration, tinged with disappointment.
It has been one step forward, two back for some time and we are still in a precarious position after what has been the most challenging time ever for business.
While it’s true that our business owners have incredible resilience, each setback really does impact on their plans, both in the short and longer term.
The hope is that this latest delay will just be a dent in the crucial summer season for some businesses, and it will not impact further on jobs or sustainability.
“And let us have faith that the July 19th target to ease restrictions is not just another false dawn.”
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