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Coronavirus / Not ‘sensible’ to accelerate easing of local Covid restrictions just yet, first minister says

Nicola Sturgeon, however, suggested that aspects of the planned further easing in early June could potentially be brought forward

First minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photo: Scottish Government

SHETLAND should not expect to have any Covid restrictions eased ahead of the next scheduled change in a fortnight despite the very low prevalence of the virus in the isles, according to first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

However, she suggested that some parts of the easing planned for early June could be brought forward.

On 17 May it is expected that all of Scotland will move from level three to level two, which will include indoor household visits in limited numbers and expanded hospitality.

But with Shetland having no cases for weeks and one of the highest vaccination rates in Scotland, there is clamour from some to have restrictions eased quicker than the rest of the country.

Last week tourist travel was allowed in and out of Shetland for the first time in months.

Speaking exclusively to Shetland News on Monday ahead of the Scottish Parliament election later this week, the first minister said she does not feel it is “sensible” at this stage to bring forward any of the changes planned for 17 May.

“One of the first decisions that the incoming government is going to have to take, literally a week today, and whoever is first minister…this will be the first thing on his or hopefully her in-tray on Monday morning next week – do these easing of restrictions go ahead on the 17th of May?” she explained.

“There’s nothing I’m seeing right now that would suggest they won’t.

“I don’t think it would necessarily be sensible to accelerate them.

“But looking beyond the 17th of May to the further easing that is scheduled for early June, it may well be that there are aspects of those that we might choose to bring forward.

“But those are not decisions that we have taken yet and it will be one of the first things that the new first minister, or re-elected first minster, whichever it is, will have to turn their attention to next Monday.”

Under level two four adults from two households can meet in homes and stay overnight.

For indoor public places like cafes, that will rise to six adults from three households.

Alcohol should be able to be served in hospitality venues, with opening hours extending to 10.30pm. However, it will operate with two-hour pre-booked slots.

Level two will also allow cinemas to reopen and some events to take place, subject to limits on capacity and physical distancing.

On 7 June Scotland is planned to go into level one, and level zero should come in late June.

Details of what is proposed in each level can be found here.

Shetland News will publish a full election piece with the first minister this week, in addition to an interview with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021