Coronavirus: Scottish government to announce 2m rule decision

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There has been speculation that Ms Sturgeon could make the wearing of face masks in shops compulsory

Scotland’s first minister is expected to announce whether or not the country will follow England in relaxing its 2m social distancing rule.

Nicola Sturgeon is due to receive updated scientific today which will form the basis of her decision.

Many pubs, restaurants and other businesses want the distance reduced before they reopen later this month.

There has also been speculation that the advice on wearing face coverings in public could be toughened.

Face coverings are currently only compulsory on public transport – with the Scottish government “strongly advising” that people also wear them in enclosed spaces such as shops.

  • Is it safe to relax the 2m rule?
  • ‘Unpopular decisions’ may be needed on coronavirus

Ms Sturgeon has also said she will announce changes today that will “help make this a slightly more normal and less frustrating summer holiday for many young people”.

Social distancing rules in England are due to change at the weekend to coincide with the reopening of pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers south of the border.

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Many pubs have been installing plastic screens ahead of reopening on 15 July

The new guidelines in England say people should remain 2m apart where possible.

But a new “one metre plus” rule is also being introduced which allows people to remain at least 1m apart so long as they take other steps to reduce the risk of transmission.

These measures include not sitting face-to-face, reducing the number of people able to enter an enclosed space such as a shop, and ensuring hand-sanitiser is available to use.

The World Health Organization recommends keeping a distance of at least 1m, with many countries that have adopted this guidance insisting on people wearing masks.

Several other countries have social distancing rules ranging from 1.4m to 1.8m.

What will reopen in Scotland and when?

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29 June – Most non-essential shops, many indoor workplaces, visitor attractions including zoos, outdoor sports courts and playgrounds

3 July – Five mile travel distance relaxed, most self-catering holiday homes and second homes can be used

6 July – Outdoor hospitality such as beer gardens can reopen

10 July – People can meet in extended groups outdoors and with two other households indoors

13 July – Shopping centres can reopen, organised outdoor contact sports for children can resume, dentists can reopen for most routine care

15 July – Pubs, restaurants and all holiday accommodation can reopen, as can hairdressers, barbers, museums, cinemas, libraries and childcare

Read more about the lockdown easing timeline here

The Scottish Conservatives have accused Ms Sturgeon of following a “go-slow” approach to relaxing the 2m rule that risked leaving Scotland behind both economically and socially.

Speaking last month, Ms Sturgeon said she was under no illusions about the potential economic benefits of changing the social distancing guidelines.

But she stressed that doing so would also bring a greater risk of the virus spreading.

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The first minister added: “We have asked in what settings, what circumstances and with what additional mitigation it might be possible to accept the risk of people not keeping to a 2m distance.

“That advice will be available by the 2nd of July. Until then the position here in Scotland remains the same – we are advising people to maintain 2m physical distancing.”

Ms Sturgeon has predicted that Scotland is close to eliminating the virus, with only 35 deaths recorded over the past week – the lowest weekly total since March.

But she has also warned that “unpopular decisions” could still need to be taken to prevent a resurgence, and has urged people not to become complacent and to continue following the guidelines.

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