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Coronavirus / Sturgeon confirms faster easing of Covid-19 restrictions for islands

Shetland to move into Level 1 restrictions from Monday

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Shetland and other Scottish islands will move down to Level 1 Covid-19 restrictions from Monday.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday lunchtime, Sturgeon said the pandemic picture in the islands had been “very much more positive” with case numbers at “consistently low levels, very low levels indeed, for some time now”.

As a result, while mainland Scotland – with the exception of Moray – is moving to Level 2, Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles will be able to enjoy greater freedoms sooner.

More to follow

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking during Tuesday lunchtime’s briefing.

12.38pm: Sturgeon urges the population to enjoy meeting up with loved ones again, saying the rest of the country is likely to move into Level 1 on 7 June and then Level 0 on 28 June.

Once all adults have been vaccinated there will hopefully be a move to something “much more like normality” later in the summer including the removal of physical distancing measures.

Concluding her remarks, Sturgeon says it is essential to “continue to exercise good sense and caution”, impressing upon people that they should continue working from home where possible, remain cautious about international travel and remember FACTS.

12.34pm: A “careful move away from blanket restrictions” on non-essential travel overseas. From Monday a traffic light system based on the state of the pandemic in countries across the world will be introduced.

There will be a “consistent four nations policy” on travel and Sturgeon welcomes the UK Government’s sensible approach.

Everyone should “think seriously about whether they need to travel abroad this summer”, and “when it comes to holidays abroad my advice continues to be to err on the side of caution and to staycation this summer”.

12.29pm: The speed of the vaccination programme and progress in getting the virus under control means that when meeting up outdoors, from Monday, within the permitted limits “you can hug your loved ones once again”.

Sturgeon does urge caution to “please still be careful and limit the overall number of people you’re choosing to have close physical contact with”.

12.27pm: Relating to the islands, Sturgeon says things have been “very much more positive” with case numbers at “consistently low levels, very low levels indeed, for some time now”. They also have “very good” vaccine coverage and there are lateral flow tests available for those travelling to the islands.

As a result, she says, it is “possible and proportionate to now ease restrictions on the islands much more quickly” in the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney.

12.25pm: Level 1 allows household visits for up to six people from three different households, or eight people from three households in hospitality settings, which will now be permitted to remain open until 11pm and to serve alcohol indoors.

You can see full detail of what is permitted within Level 1 here.

12.20pm: Sturgeon confirms that the island communities, which have not seen new cases for a concerted number of days, will go down to Level 1 measures from Monday. That means Shetlanders will enjoy a greater level of freedom than anticipated in six days’ time.

The rest of Scotland will move down to Level 2, with the exception of Moray where there are high case numbers and widespread community transmission.