SCOTLAND will hopefully drop all Covid-19 restrictions from August 9, Nicola Sturgeon has said. 

The First Minister made the announcement while speaking to MSPs in Holyrood on Tuesday, and added that she hopes all parts of Scotland will move to Level 0 from July 19.

It comes as the Scottish Government published two papers on their strategy on moving out of Covid-19 restrictions and a review of physical distancing. 

The First Minister explained that the government’s intentions had been “to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there”, but they will now aim to “suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we recover and rebuild for a better future”.

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Sturgeon said that as vaccines offer us the “route out of this pandemic”, the Scottish Government are now looking forward to a point later in the summer where all legal restrictions will be lifted. 

As the vaccination programme is reducing the amount of people hospitalised and dying from Covid, the First Minister said that the government will now focus on reducing the “wider health, social and economic harms strict lockdown measures caused”.

She added that if the data says they can move quicker they will, but also if it indicates that things need to be slowed down then the government will do so.

The National:

Speaking in Holyrood, Sturgeon said: “Our assessment – on balance and assuming we meet the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction – is that it would be possible and proportionate to lift the major remaining legal restrictions on 9 August.

“We will consider and make a final assessment nearer the time of whether – as we hope – this could include the lifting of the legal requirement to physically distance indoors as well as outdoors.”

She added: “The move beyond Level 0 will be a major milestone and it will signal a return to almost complete normality in our day-to-day lives.

“Of course, while this is a longed-for moment, it is important to recognise that we still have a difficult path to navigate over the next few weeks to meet these milestones and, even assuming we do, the pandemic will not be completely over at this stage.

“As our Strategic Framework Update paper sets out, basic mitigations will still be required, as we move through summer and into the autumn, when we face the risk of a further resurgence in cases.”

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Sturgeon also told MSPs that the government hopes to move all parts of Scotland, which are currently not in that level, down to Level 0 at the next review point on July 19. 

She said: “That means, for example, that the limits for household gatherings indoors will increase from that date, and up to 200 people will be able to attend weddings and funerals.

“We also hope – assuming the data supports this – that the general indoor physical distancing requirement can be reduced from 2 metres to 1 metre.

The National:

“And we hope, from that date, to lift the outdoor requirement to physically distance.

“In addition – in recognition of the reduced risk of outdoor transmission and therefore the desire to encourage people to stay outdoors as much as possible – we hope that limits on informal outdoor social gatherings, in private gardens for example, will also be removed at this stage.”

The First Minister also told MSPs that when Scotland moves down to Level 0, the restriction on household gatherings outside - currently at 15 people from 15 households - will be lifted entirely in a bid to encourage people to spend more time outdoors over the summer.