Shopping centres reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased
Scotland will see «the most significant easing of lockdown» this week with shopping centres, pubs and restaurants reopening, the first minister has said.
Non-essential shops inside shopping malls are now allowed to return to business.
Children and young people are also permitted to play organised outdoor contact sports.
Further restrictions on the indoor hospitality sector will be lifted from Wednesday.
Family and friends are also able to visit hospital patients from Monday.
Patients can have a designated visitor, although they will have to follow strict public health guidance and arrange a time to visit in advance.
Dentists can offer some routine treatments, such as examinations, hand scaling and extractions.
But they will not be able to carry out aerosol procedures – those which produce a fine mist – like the use of a high-speed drill.
That will rule out most fillings, crown preparations and treatments involving a water spray.
It was a slow start for many shopping centres across Scotland as people were allowed in for the first time since March.
At Waverley Mall, Edinburgh’s only city centre shopping centre, a number of shops were still closed and its food court does not open until Wednesday for sit-in meals.
Mark Sleet, 62, a project manager working on the construction of another shopping centre in Edinburgh city centre, described his experience as a «culture shock».
He said: «I’ve been travelling to Edinburgh from Morpeth in England every day for work and it’s like going back in time.
«It’s really getting back to normal in England and the shopping malls are busy.
«Waverley Mall was empty today and I had to wear a mask, which felt confusing for me.»
Alex Weedman, 29, from Edinburgh, said: «I’m a shopaholic and wanted to see Flying Tiger, which is a shop that is only in Waverley Mall. I’m wearing a mask in case others feel worried but I’m not afraid.»
It was also quiet at Ocean Terminal on the first day shopping centres could reopen in Scotland.
Shopper Chris Pearson, 61, said: «It felt empty so I’m sure a lot of the shopkeepers would have felt disappointed.
«Quite a lot of the shops also weren’t open. I can understand why the tourist shops weren’t open but other shops must be waiting until they think it’s going to get busier.»
Elsewhere, some outlets in Aberdeen’s Union Square shopping centre had queues of people for opening.
One shopper, who asked not to be named, said: «It’s a bit of normality, we’ve been waiting a few months. I’ve been working from home so not really doing anything else. I usually come into town every weekend.
«I took a day off, so first in the queue.»
Another spoke of the safety measures in place and the relaxed feel in the centre.
She said: «It’s good and I do feel safe. There’s a lot of measures in place, although getting used to this mask is going to be a bit hard.»
Nicola Sturgeon said continued success in suppressing coronavirus allowed the relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
But she has warned the easing could be revoked at any time if there was a spike in Covid-19 cases.
The first minister said: «The fundamental, primary responsibility to keep the virus low in Scotland is on the shoulders of all of us to do the right things.
«That means face coverings, avoiding crowded places, cleaning our hands and keeping two-metres distancing, following the advice to self-isolate and get tested if we have symptoms.»
Restricting access to people in hospital had been necessary «to keep patients and staff as safe as possible», Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said.
She also said the measures had «helped us protect the capacity and resilience of NHS Scotland».
Ms Freeman added: «I want to thank everyone who has followed this guidance as I know how hard it has been for patients, families and carers not to have seen their loved ones in hospital.
«There is a need to balance the risk of physical and psychological harm that the absence of visitors can cause, with the gradual reduction of Covid-19.
«The safety of patients, staff and visitors will continue to be our priority.»
From Wednesday, hairdressers and barbers will be able to reopen – with enhanced hygiene measures.
Indoor pubs, cafes and restaurants can also return to business.
They can seek an exemption from the two-metre distancing rule, but will have to warn customers that they are entering a 1m zone, produce revised seating plans, and improve ventilation.
Guidance on physical distancing will have to be followed, and customers will have to provide their contact details.
All holiday accommodation can also reopen from 15 July, as can museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments and libraries.