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Coronavirus / Government announces new restrictions as number of Covid infections remains high

First minister Nicola Sturgeon.

THE SCOTTISH Government has confirmed new restrictions on meeting people from other households in response to continually high numbers of new Covid-19 infections.

It comes as a new case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Shetland.

As of today (Thursday), Scotland is following England in limiting the number of people allowed to meet in homes, gardens, pubs or restaurants to six from no more than two households.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday first minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced that venues and events that had hoped to re-open on 14 September would now have to wait until at least 5 October.

This means that live music venues, indoor soft play facilities and indoor contact sports activities for people aged 12 and over will have to be paused for a further three weeks.

The Clickimin games hall and 60/40 pitch are set to remain closed to people aged 12 and over for a little longer yet following the new government restrictions.

Shetland Recreational Trust general manager Steven Laidlaw said he was slightly disappointed by the news but said he “understands fully” that safety comes first.

The trust’s leisure centres will reopen as expected on Monday (14 September), although the South Mainland pool will remain closed for the time being to allow repairs to be carried out.

Shetland Arts chief Graeme Howell said the new restrictions on live events and music venues do not affect the agency’s plans as it was already looking at mid-October as a target date.

Working from home meanwhile will remain the default position, as offices that were in line to be opened will stay closed.

Sturgeon also confirmed that wearing face coverings will be made mandatory in hospitality settings when moving around and not eating or drinking.

“The hospitality industry has put a lot of effort into creating safe spaces for people to meet and we hope these additional protections will help ensure the sector can remain open, with high levels of compliance,” she says.

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Reacting to the news, Emma Miller speaking on behalf of Living Lerwick and Shetland Tourism Association, said most businesses have already implemented the request for customers to wear a face covering while not seated in their premises.

“I think this now being mandatory won’t have a significant impact for that reason. Our pub, café and restaurant owners have been vigilant and thorough in ensuring the safety of their customers and staff with safety policies since they re-opened,” she said.

“The reduction in the number of people permitted to sit together may have some impact for bigger groups seeking to go out together, but I’m sure venues will accommodate them as best they can.”

The first minister said that over the last 24 hours 161 new Covid cases had been recorded, and that the pandemic was still acceleration though from a low base.

Sturgeon was joined by opposition leader Ruth Davidson in urging people in Scotland to download the new test and protect app, which had been launched earlier on Thursday, as one measure everybody with a smartphone could do to help combat the virus. 

The Scottish Government has just published an update to its route map out of phase three of the pandemic. It can be found here.

The Protect Scotland app can be downloaded from this page:

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