Lifting of Scotland's Covid restrictions has left me with butterflies in my stomach, says Sturgeon

  • ITV News Scotland Correspondent reports on the different restrictions in place - no face masks in nightclubs but in force in mosques

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted she's nervous about the lifting of most legal coronavirus restrictions in Scotland hours after revellers hit nightclub dancefloors and physical distancing laws were scrapped.

The first minister confirmed last week that the country would move beyond Level 0 - the lowest level of a five tier system of restrictions in Scotland - due to the "steady decline in cases" and "the success of vaccination".

From Monday, legal requirements for physical distancing will be scrapped, except in healthcare settings. All venues are now able to reopen – including nightclubs, as many did when the clock struck one minute past midnight on Monday.

Hours after revellers in Scotland partied for the first time in months, Ms Sturgeon told Good Morning Britain: “I think there’s always going to be nervousness when we lift restrictions after such a long period.

“I have to be honest that there’s some butterflies in my stomach about it today, but I think it’s the right moment to do this.

“We see daily fluctuations in our case numbers but the trend is downwards, and of course the vaccine is giving significant protection.

“So this is the right moment to remove legal restrictions to try to get that greater normality back in our lives, but with a big caveat that the virus hasn’t gone away, the pandemic is not over."

Ms Sturgeon said she thinks it would be premature to declare victory over Covid.

'It feels like getting part of your life back': Revellers queue outside a Glasgow nightclub at midnight on Monday

"We’ve got to continue to be careful, which is why in Scotland we’re keeping some sensible precautions in place – for example, face coverings in many indoor settings – so it’s a moment to feel optimistic," she said.

“This has been a long, hard year-and-a-half, but we’ve got to continue to exercise care and caution – this virus is unpredictable, and I think it’s true that we under-estimate it at our peril.”

At midnight on Monday, elated revellers queued outside The Buff Club, a nightclub in Glasgow.

One youngster said: "We haven't actually been out since we were 19 - all of our 20th and 21st birthdays were through lockdown."

"It feels like you're getting part of your life back," another said.

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At the nearby Polo Lounge, an LGBTQ inclusive club, revellers chanted and screamed as the clock struck midnight and the doors re-opened.

Luke Dunsmuir, 19, from Strathbungo, said he was eager to get back.

“I’ve been nightclubbing since I was 15,” he said.

Mr Dunsmuir added that he wasn’t worried about Covid-19 as he was double-vaccinated.

“The only worry was older people, that was the only worry for me, but the younger generation the percentage of them getting Covid is so low,” he said.

Ms Sturgeon argued that the more gradual easing of restrictions has helped the cautious approach to Covid-19 north of the border as children return to school in the coming weeks.

Secondary school pupils are among those who will have to continue wearing face coverings in the classroom for at least the first six weeks of term.

The first minister added: “We will be monitoring that carefully and we will not keep that requirement in place for any longer than necessary.

Dancers took to the floor at the Boteco Do Brasil club as coronavirus restrictions eased Credit: Daniel Harkins/PA

“People sometimes ask me just now: ‘Why do young people still need to wear face coverings in schools when there are some other settings where that’s not required?’ – of course, young people for now remain unvaccinated, although we’re starting to vaccinate 16 and 17-year-olds.

“And, unlike nightclubs, which are places that people have a choice over whether or not they go to, that’s not the case with schools.

“There’s something quite unique about the school setting… so keeping some basic precautions there for a bit longer as schools return strikes me as sensible – it’s certainly the clinical advice I’ve got.”

However, when speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday morning, Ms Sturgeon was challenged over whether she could guarantee no further lockdowns.

She replied: “I think any politician, anywhere in the world, in the face of a pandemic of an infectious virus that sits here and says ‘I can guarantee something’ is not being sensible and actually it’s not being frank with people.

“Every fibre of my being hopes that the restrictions we are lifting today in Scotland will never, ever have to be imposed, and am I optimistic about that? Yes.

“Can I guarantee it? Well, I could tell you that right now for the sake of an easier interview, but it wouldn’t be the right thing to say because keeping this virus under control depends on all of us continuing to do all of the sensible things I’ve been talking about."