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Coronavirus / Islands expected to drop to level two at end of April

The government will discuss possible travel restrictions with island communities

First minister Nicola Sturgeon.

ISLAND communities currently under level three of Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions will have the option to drop to level two from 26 April, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

While travel across mainland Scotland will be allowed again from that date, travel restrictions may remain in place between the mainland and the islands to protect from the possible importation of the virus.

Sturgeon said that discussions will be held between the government and island communities, with travel restrictions a possible option if rules on socialising and hospitality were eased quicker in the islands.

“We expect that from 26 April, restrictions on journeys within mainland Scotland will be lifted entirely,” Sturgeon said.

“However, if restrictions on socialising and hospitality are relaxed more quickly and significantly on the islands, there may be a need to retain some restrictions on travel to and from the mainland – to protect island communities from the importation of new cases.

“However, rather than impose that decision now on our island communities, we intend to discuss it directly with them to determine what arrangements they consider will work best for their circumstances.”

A press statement from the government later said that “discussions will be held with island communities already in lower levels on the possibility of having a faster return to more socialising and hospitality with restrictions on mainland travel to protect against importation of the virus”.

The first minister also said there is a hope for indoor visits to be allowed again in Scotland from 17 May, with up to four people from up to two households able to socialise. This will be kept under review.

Some other Scotland-wide changes include allowing 50 people at weddings and funerals from 26 April and colleges and universities returning to a more blended model of learning from 17 May.

Sturgeon said there is a hope that by the early part of June all of Scotland will go to level one.

From the end of June, the government hopes that the country can drop to level zero.

Sturgeon said the route out of current restrictions provides a “welcome reassurance that brighter days are ahead of us”.

She warned, though, that the “inexcusable fact” was that the easing of restrictions depends on the continued suppression of the virus and the progress of the vaccine rollout.

The government’s timetable for easing restrictions can be found here.

Five more Covid cases have been confirmed in Shetland following a case linked to Mossbank Primary School announced on Monday.

Before this Shetland had gone over a month without a new case, although NHS Shetland said generally more positive tests were inevitable as the pandemic continues.