Nicola Sturgeon 'nervous' as Scotland enters 'highest risk' stage of relaxing lockdown

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted she is "nervous" about lockdown relaxations coming into force today in Scotland, describing them as, "by some margin, the highest risk changes" so far.

Huge changes in Scotland's restrictions are being implemented today, allowing - among other relaxations - indoor pubs, cafes, restaurants, hairdressers and barbers to open, but with enhanced hygiene practices.

With "the risk of the virus spreading indoors, in a pub for example, is significantly higher than it is outdoors", Ms Sturgeon said it was important people follow guidelines in order to avoid a return to full lockdown, as has been seen in Leicester and California.

"It is vital – more vital than it has been at any stage of this crisis so far – that all of us stick rigidly to the rules and guidance on how to behave in these different settings.”

She said Scotland had taken its "biggest step" so far out of lockdown as it went a full week without any new coronavirus deaths.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Credit: PA

The first minister said no Covid-19 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, the seventh day in a row without a rise in fatalities.

But she pointed to the tightening of restrictions in California, where bars, cinemas and restaurants, have had to close again.

“That must be a reminder that our progress out of lockdown could yet go into reverse,” she warned.

“And it will go into reverse if we see signs that the virus is starting to spread widely in the community again.

“So all of us must do everything we can to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

She encouraged people to take advantage of the added freedoms buy supporting businesses but urged caution as she suggested she would be prepared to reinstate restrictions.

“Prevalence of the virus in Scotland has now fallen to very low levels,” the First Minister said.

“But as we all go out and about more it becomes increasingly important we are very alert, hyper vigilant, to any early warnings that case numbers might be starting to increase again.”

What's changing in Scotland from today (Wednesday)?

  • The childcare sector can fully open

  • Venues like museums, galleries and other attractions can also welcome visitors

  • Hairdressing services resume

  • Cinemas can open their doors

  • Places of worship can reopen for communal services and prayer for up to 50 people, if that can be accommodated within physical distancing

  • Tourism sector can also fully reopen; hotels and bed and breakfasts

  • Indoor hospitality can reopen, such as pubs and restaurants