Scotland: Lockdown easing paused after highest number of daily coronavirus cases recorded in 90 days

Credit: PA

Scotland's easing of lockdown has been paused as the country recorded the highest number of daily coronavirus cases in almost three months.

A total of 77 new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Scotland in the past 24 hours, making it the highest day-on-day increase since May 26.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Thursday that the country would remain in phase three of her four-part plan for easing lockdown restrictions.

But said sport stadiums, live music venues and theatres will be allowed to reopen from September 14.

Nicola Sturgeon said the lockdown situation would be reviewed again in September. Credit: PA

The First Minister also announced that the reopening of gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts was being brought forward in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Three weeks ago, I indicated that they could reopen from September 14 but I also said that we would consider if that date could safely be brought forward – especially given the wider physical and mental health benefits of access to these facilities."

She confirmed such facilities would now be able to reopen from August 31.

For premises such as bingo halls, Nicola Sturgeon stressed it was "of the utmost importance that guidance is strictly adhered to" - warning that minsters will be monitoring it carefully.

The First Minister told MSPs the country would not be moving into phase four however, she said: "I am not able to indicate, today, a move from phase three of our route map out of lockdown to phase four."

She continued: "We will remain, for now, in phase three and I must give notice today that this may well be the case beyond the next review point too."

The First Minister was giving the results of a three-week review of lockdown restrictions to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

A shop window in Aberdeen after bars, cafes and restaurants were ordered to close as a part of local lockdown restrictions. Credit: PA

In order for Scotland to move into phase four, the final stage in the lockdown easing plan, Ms Sturgeon said ministers would have to be satisfied that "the virus is no longer considered a significant threat to public health".

She said the latest figures showed that "this is definitely not the case".

The situation will be reviewed again on September 14 to see if the country can move into the final phase.

Ms Sturgeon also announced an intention to give new powers to police and local authorities to impose and police restrictions.

Scotland has already eased coronavirus lockdown with the reopening of pubs indoors. Credit: PA

"The Scottish government has powers under emergency legislation to issue directions in respect of a class of premises – for example, to close all pubs in a particular postcode," she said

"We intend to give local authorities the power to act in respect of individual, specific premises that are breaching guidelines and risking transmission of the virus."

The powers would enable local authorities to close premises or to impose conditions on their opening.

Children have returned to school in Scotland Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

A total of 19,534 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland.

The death toll in the country remains at 2,492 with no new reported deaths in the past 24 hours.

There are 249 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 - an increase of one since the day before.

Two patients remain in intensive care having tested positive for the virus.

What is reopening in Scotland and when?

August 24 - Some outdoor live events can take place, organised outdoor contact sports will resume for people of all ages, and driving lessons can return.

August 31 - Gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts can reopen, this has been brought forward from an original date of September 14.

September 14 - Sport stadiums, live music venues and theatres can reopen.

A date has not been set for the reopening of non-essential call centres and offices, with home working remaining the default position.