August 9 will see Scotland’s restrictions eased once again.
Addressing Holyrood last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the news that’s been expected: that August 9 – often dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ – will go ahead as planned. From today, Scotland will therefore see an end to social distancing measures and legal limits on social gatherings, which will allow for the reopening of nightclubs and other big venues. Whilst it’s a big step forward towards normality, Nicola Sturgeon added a note of caution to the news.
Nicola Sturgeon announced that no venue will be legally required to close from today, however she said face coverings should continue to be worn in indoor settings beyond Level 0 restrictions. In addition, Test & Protect will continue to contact-trace positive cases and it will be an ongoing requirement for indoor hospitality and similar venues to collect the contact details of customers.
Despite the First Minister announcing the lifting of most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions such as physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings, she said there will be a continued use of travel restrictions and home working will still be advised. These will remain in place “as and when necessary, to restrict the spread of outbreaks and protect against the risk of importation of new variants.”
These are all the restrictions that will change or end in Scotland from August 9, which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed last week:
Social distancing comes to an end
August 9 marks the end of the one-metre rule (which, if your memories stretch that far, was two metres at the beginning of the pandemic). This means the end of social distancing in Scotland, and will see resulting changes to social venues; for instance, ordering at the bar in a pub will once again be allowed, as bars, pubs, and restaurants will no longer be restricted to just table service. However, the one-metre rule will remain in place at UK borders, to prevent mingling between passengers from red-list and amber and green-list countries.
Mask-wearing will continue to be enforced
Since March 2020, masks have become a part of everyday life for UK residents without a medical exemption – however, despite further lifting of restrictions the government said Scotland should continue to wear them in indoor settings such as shops, restaurants, and on public transport.
Limits on social contact will be ended
At present, we can gather in groups of eight indoors or groups of up to 15 outdoors. From August 9, these limits will be scrapped, so if you’d like to organise a meal for ten people at a restaurant, invite 60 people to your birthday in the park, or throw a 200-guest wedding, you’re free to do so. This also means that music festivals are once again allowed from this date.
In addition, from August 9, large scale events will be going ahead but will have to apply for permission. Nicola Sturgeon said: “For a limited period, we will keep in place the processes through which organisers of outdoor events of more than 5000 and indoor events of more than 2000 will have to apply for permission. This will allow us and local authorities to be assured of the arrangements in place to reduce risk. ”
Nightclubs, theatres, and more can fully reopen
The removal of capacity limits and social distancing paves the way for the return of Glasgow’s nightclubs, which have seen some of the longest Covid-enforced shutdowns of the past year and a half. Revellers will be able to hit the dancefloor by the end of the month, whilst the likes of theatres, museums, stadiums and cinemas can increase the number of visitors once again. The government also recently announced the three D’s rule, which means face coverings can be removed while dancing, drinking and dining.
Negative PCR tests and two doses of the vaccine can reduce self-isolation period
In terms of self-isolation beyond Level 0, an adult who is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will no longer be required automatically to self-isolate for 10 days. If someone is double-vaccinated (with at least two weeks having passed since the second dose) and if they have no symptoms, they should get a PCR test as soon as possible. If the PCR test is negative, self-isolation can then be ended.
Young people aged 5 to 17 who are identified as a close contact, will need to take a PCR test, however they can end their self-isolation if they test negative. Children under the age of 5 will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test. Whole classes will no longer need to isolate after August 9, but face coverings will remain a requirement for staff and students over 12 years old to wear them in schools. The First Minister also confirmed that invitations for vaccines are now going out to 12 to 17-year-olds with specific health conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19, with the first doses expected to be rolled out by the end of August.
Travelling and holidays will also change
One of the biggest changes here has been that double-vaccinated Scots will be able to travel to amber-list countries without needing to quarantine upon their return. This will mean the rules for travel for amber-list travellers with two jabs will be near-identical to those for people returning from green-list territories: a Covid test before returning home, and another test within two days of returning to Scotland. The rules for red-list countries remain stricter. See more about current travel restrictions here.
For further information and guidance on the rules beyond Level 0, head to the Scottish government website here.