Easing of COVID restrictions for most of Scotland to be delayed, Sturgeon says

Most of Scotland will stay under Level 2 COVID restrictions in a "slight slowing down of easing" due to a high number of cases, Nicola Sturgeon said.

The first minister said the rising numbers of the Indian variant and the fact a large proportion of people were still not fully vaccinated meant the planned move into Level 1 restrictions for most of the country was being delayed.

Glasgow will move down from Level 3 to 2 from midnight on Friday, however, she added.

Under the Scottish government’s COVID route map, Scotland was scheduled to move into Level 1 restrictions from next Monday, 7 June.

The country had moved to Level 2 restrictions last month, although a spike in infections – thought to be driven in large part by the Indian variant of the virus – forced ministers to keep the entire Glasgow City Council area in Level 3.

Last week, Ms Sturgeon said Glasgow had an "uncomfortably high" number of COVID cases despite "signs of progress" in limiting infections.

Level 3 restrictions mean pubs, bars and restaurants can’t serve alcohol indoors and must close at 8pm, while gatherings inside other peoples’ homes are barred.

Under Level 2 restrictions, pubs, bars and restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol indoors, six people from three households can meet inside homes and stay overnight, and indoor group exercise classes allowed for over 18s.

And under Level 1 restrictions, there is even greater flexibility on social mixing and all leisure and entertainment businesses – apart from nightclubs – can open.

People are able to travel anywhere in Scotland in Levels 0, 1 or 2 but must not enter a Level 3 or 4 area unless they have a permitted reason like going to work or caring for a vulnerable person.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing growing calls to delay the further easing of restrictions in England.

Stage four of Mr Johnson’s roadmap for easing coronavirus rules – when the prime minister aims to remove all legal limits on social contact – is scheduled to take place from 21 June.

But there is growing doubt over whether the prime minister will be able to keep to that date due to the spread of the Indian variant – now renamed as the Delta variant by the World Health Organisation – within the UK.

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