The Scottish Government was recalled for a virtual session yesterday, Tuesday 13 July, for the latest COVID-19 update by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who confirmed that – as planned – restrictions across mainland Scotland will drop to Level 0 from Monday 19 July.
Urging the need for a cautious and responsible approach to the lifting of restrictions, Ms Sturgeon stressed the importance of the continued use of face coverings, which will remain mandatory where they are currently required – including within indoor settings at visitor attractions. She announced that the move to Level 0 includes some modifications to the Scottish Government’s initial plans – reflecting high levels of Delta variant infection rates. The modifications include a delay in the return to office work, which had been planned as part of Level 0, and the imposition of a midnight curfew on indoor hospitality.
From Monday, one change impacting travel to the benefit of tourism is that fully-vaccinated people coming into the country from amber list countries will no longer need to quarantine, as long as they take a test on arrival.
The key points for attractions operators to note with regard to the move to Level 0 on 19 July are:
- Indoor restrictions on social gatherings in a public place will move from 8 people from 3 households to 10 people from 4 households.
- Outdoor restrictions will also move to 15 people from 15 households.
- Children under 12 will not count towards either the number of people or the number of households.
- Indoor physical distancing requirements will be reduced from two metres to one metre.
- Outdoor physical distancing requirements of one metre will also apply between different groups, but a group of up to 15 people from 15 households can meet outdoors without distancing.
- Face coverings will still be mandatory in indoor settings, including in indoor attractions.
- Test & Protect contact details will still need to be collected in hospitality settings, including attraction cafes & restaurants.
- Up to 200 people can attend weddings.
- Large events can take place, with a maximum attendance of 400 people indoors and 2000 people standing or 1000 seated outdoors.
In addition, from 19 July, self-isolation will no longer be required for people arriving from countries on the amber list, provided they are fully vaccinated through a UK vaccination programme and take a PCR test on the second day after arrival.
Ms Sturgeon advised that it is still hoped that Scotland can move ‘beyond Level 0’ on 9 August when most legal restrictions will be dropped, however she warned that some precautions, such as the mandatory wearing of face coverings, and guidance on hand hygiene and ventilation, are likely to remain in place ‘for some time’. She said: “We must stick to a cautious approach. We are easing restrictions next week, but we are not abandoning them. And even when we move beyond Level 0, we will continue to require some baseline measures such as face coverings.”
In terms of the move to ‘ beyond Level 0’, there was a further significant statement made by the First Minister, when she stated that it is likely that from 9 August the requirement will be removed for close contacts of those who test positive to self-isolate – as long as they have been double-vaccinated and have taken a negative PCR test.
Responding to the First Minister’s announcement, ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison said: “It is, of course, very pleasing to receive confirmation that all of Scotland will move to Level 0 on 19 July. For Scotland’s attractions sector however, the ongoing restrictions on physical distancing are going to continue to have a significant impact on economic viability for many during this crucial summer season. It is certainly more bearable that distancing restrictions are moving to 1 metre, but I know that many attraction operators are looking further ahead to 9 August and ‘beyond Level 0’, as the more significant date, as this is when we will hopefully see the end of physical distancing restrictions completely in both indoor and outdoor settings.
“It was also significant to hear from the First Minister about the changes to self-isolation rules from 9 August. ASVA had just last week reported to the Scottish Government the concerns of many in the sector in relation to the current 10-day self-isolation policy, and the impact this is having on business operations at a number of attractions. It was therefore very pleasing to hear the First Minister report that the Scottish Government will remove the need for people to self-isolate if they have a close contact with a positive case, provided they are double vaccinated and have a negative PCR test.’’
The First Minister’s full statement can be accessed at this link.