People can meet family and friends as lockdown eases in Scotland

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

People can meet family and friends outdoors and play sports such as golf and tennis again as Scotland starts to ease out of lockdown.

Garden centres are also reopening, while people are now allowed to sit and sunbathe in nearby parks and travel to somewhere local for recreation.

From Friday the country is moving into phase one of the Scottish Government’s four-phase plan for gradually lifting lockdown.

People north of the border are now able to meet one other household at a time outdoors – though they should continue to socially distance when meeting and the maximum number in the group should be eight.

Garden centres can reopen from Friday. Credit: PA

Announcing the changes on Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said lockdown is being eased from Friday after a “sustained and unmistakable” downward trend in coronavirus cases.

Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing are allowed to restart from Friday, while most outdoor work can resume and construction sites can prepare for work to start again.

The Scottish Government also said it will “no longer discourage” drive-through restaurants from opening.

Recent good weather has already seen large numbers of people head to areas such as Portobello beach in Edinburgh, but Ms Sturgeon said the “strong advice” as lockdown eases is for people to stay within about five miles of their home, and to avoid places that are busy.

Ms Sturgeon said that while the lockdown – which has been in place since March 23 – is being “modified slightly”, the crisis is “not over” and she called on people to “exercise good judgment at all times”.

Police also warned people to avoid busy areas and beauty spots as lockdown eases.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “We recognise that people have made significant sacrifices until now, and, while the temptation may be to head straight for one of our beauty spots, we would ask people to use their judgment and avoid going to places which are normally busy during the good weather.

“Complying with the legislation about meeting only one other household outdoors at any one time, and following the Scottish Government’s guidance about avoiding travelling long distances will stop our parks, beaches, lochs and hills from becoming overcrowded and help ensure appropriate physical distancing is maintained, reducing the spread of coronavirus.

“We want people to enjoy our outdoor spaces safely and our officers will be robustly tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities.”

Some non-contact outdoor sports such as tennis can now resume. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Further changes will come next week, with teachers and other staff allowed to re-enter schools from Monday to prepare for the proposed return of schools on August 11.

Recycling centres will be allowed to open once again from Monday.

Childminders and fully outdoor nurseries can start to reopen from Wednesday June 3, though there will be limits on the number of children that can be cared for. Further guidance for childminders will be issued on Monday.

Also during phase one, some key public services such as respite care, children’s hearings and vital health programmes will begin to restart their work.

The Scottish Government said further announcements on timing will be made in due course.