Scotland Covid-19, Economy and regeneration

Scotland – A careful and managed move into phase 2


Kim Fellows outlines Scotland’s second phase of exiting lockdown following the First Minister’s announcements last week.

This blog has been updated to reflect recent announcements.

Early phase 3 measures were announced yesterday (24th June), and include provisional dates for the easing of travel restrictions, reopening the hospitality industry and hairdressers. The First Minister made clear that these dates are dependent on sustained lower rates of infections and deaths and that the measures are contingent on scientific and public health advice.

The main points of future relaxation plans are as follows:

  • The 2 metres social distancing policy remains in place however an update on this policy will be provided on 2 July;
  • Sectoral guidance will be published ahead of reopening and the Scottish Government and retail sector will campaign for the use of face masks and other coverings in shops;
  • Provisional phase 3 dates will be provided ahead of reopening to allow businesses time to prepare. A final decision in regards to phase 3 will be announced on 9 July.

Indicative Phase 2 dates:

  • 3 July – Travel limit for leisure will be lifted
  • 3 July – Self-catering holiday accommodation allowed, as long as there are no shared facilities between households
  • 6 July – Outdoor hospitality can begin subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review

Indicative Phase 3 dates:

  • 10 July – People can meet in larger groups outside, with social distancing
  • 10 July – Households can meet indoors with up to a maximum of two households, with social distancing
  • 13 July – Organised outdoor contact sport can resume for children and young people, subject to guidance
  • 13 July – All dental practices can see registered patients for non-aerosol routine care, and work will begin to return aerosol generating procedures to practice safely
  • 13 July – Increased capacity within community optometry practices for emergency and essential eye appointments
  • 13 July – Shopping centres can reopen, subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review
  • 15 July – All childcare providers can open dependent on individual provider arrangements
  • 15 July – All holiday accommodation will be allowed
  • 15 July – Indoor hospitality can reopen, subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review
  • 15 July – Hairdressers and barbers can reopen with enhanced hygiene measures
  • 15 July – Museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments, libraries will reopen with social distancing and other measures, e.g. booking in advance

When announcing these relaxation plans, Nicola Sturgeon spoke of the sacrifices made by the public to protect the NHS and save lives, and stated that while the path to easing lockdown is now clearer, the virus poses a real and dangerous threat to society.

End of update. 

On 17 June the latest NRS figures showed that Scotland had the lowest death rate from Covid-19 since late March as the figures fell for the 7th week in a row. In response to this the First Minister reiterated that she is pleased to observe the fall in number but personally regretted every death that has taken place.

The NRS data breaks Covid-19 death rates down by health board showing high numbers across the Central Belt with Glasgow and Clyde having the highest rates. In terms of Local Authority area the data indicates that West Dunbartonshire, Midlothian, and Inverclyde had the highest fatalities while Dumfries & Galloway, Moray and Highland had the lowest. Some Island councils have had no deaths so far. The risk of death by location was also four times higher in larger urban areas compared with remote rural areas.

Research over the past few months has shown that the risk of infection is tied to socio-economic circumstance. Inequality has become a hallmark of this crisis with levels of deprivation playing a critical role in the risk of infection. In fact, analysis in Scotland has show that people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland were more than twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as those living in the wealthiest parts. A recent LGIU briefing – We’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat explores this issue and outlines policy recommendations for local governments and communities to come out of Covid-19 healthier and fairer. Another recent briefing explores the impact of this crisis on BAME communities as has been another key dimension to levels of risk.

Age too has a significant impact on your levels of risk. Looking in more depth at all Covid-19 deaths in Scotland, nearly 80% were aged over 75 and over 90% of those people had at least one preexisting condition.

Occupation has played a key role in the analysis of death rates across the country. In the age-standardized death data, for the first time, we are able to see occupational. For both men and women those in the ‘caring, leisure and other occupation’ group faced high levels of risk. Other professions with higher risk rates included clearers, construction workers, plant and machine occupations and ambulance drivers. Interestingly, health care workers (such as nurses and doctors) didn’t show an increased risk of death but social care workers did. This data is explored in more depth in a recent LGIU briefing alongside another piece examining the ONS’s approach to data reporting in this crisis.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used these figures, other evidence and information to make the announcement on 18 June that she was moving Scotland out of lockdown into the next steps – so called phase two. Full details can be found here with an EQIA and evidence paper to be published soon.

It is clear from the details that not all changes will take place at once.  Each week more details are provided in order that people can plan for reopening of facilities.

Key areas for LG are noted in the section on increases in public services including levels of public transport. It has also been announced that from Monday the 22nd June face coverings will become mandatory on all public transport.

Other key changes include:

  • Outdoor markets, some retail outlets, playgrounds and garden attractions to open from the 29th June. In many of these cases councils will be involved in work around safe distancing measures. Council operated car parks will start to open as determined locally.
  • Register offices reopening from the 29th June.
  • Moving to a new house, having energy efficiency work take place at home and tenant visits will recommence from the 29th June.
  • From the 19th June people who are not shielding are allowed to meet more households outside with an 8 person overall limit. Certain households are also allowed to meet others indoors as an ‘extended household’.

Further guidance is expected with regards to care homes, care home visits and social care support.

There was hope that outdoor pubs and cafes, gyms might reopen but not yet, risks are being assessed and further announcements are expected on 2 July with next full review on 9 July.

All of the next steps will be dictated by evidence and in the meantime people in Scotland are being asked to stay local and maintain hygiene and distancing measure whilst opting for active travel when and where possible.

In Scottish Parliament there was a robust debate around what some political parties have called “a cautious approach”. There has been a wide ranging discussion about schools provision when schools re open and this is a subject that will be intensely debated in the coming weeks. But the FM stated that, while recognising the frustrations, in her view, premature easing of too many restrictions would be too great a risk.


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