South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement to ease more lockdown restrictions.

The SNP MSP put out a statement following an announcement today from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, that Scotland would begin to implement the second phase of easing lockdown, with measures introduced gradually rather than all at once.

The changes will start today with new guidance for shielded people who can now go outdoors for a walk, wheel, run or cycle. From tomorrow shielded people will also be able to take part in non-contact sports like golf and hiking and meet up outdoors with one other household. The rules for meeting up for non-shielded households will also be relaxed from tomorrow with the limit increasing from one other household to two. Certain household types – for example people who live alone or only with children under 18 – will also be able meet others indoors in an ‘extended household’ and be treated as being part of that household.

From next Monday dentists will be able to re-open for emergency treatment and there will be an increase in other NHS, GP, screening and care services. Places of worship will be open for private prayer and some sporting events will be allowed to resume. Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport.

From the 29th June non-essential retail units which have street access will be allowed to re-open as will playgrounds and zoos. Marriages and civil partnerships will be able to take place outdoors with strict social distancing rules and limits on guest numbers.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“It’s welcome news that new cases of COVID-19 have reduced to such a level that Scotland can now start implementing phase two of the routemap out of lockdown.

“This is only happening thanks to everyone who stayed at home and stuck to the social distancing rules – without your sacrifices we’d never have got to this stage, so thanks to each and every one of you.

“Phase two means a lot more opportunities for us to socialise, shop and participate in sporting activities, although strict social distancing rules will still apply. And although it’s disappointing that the risk of transmission is still too high for street cafes and beer gardens to re-open right away, hopefully this is just a few weeks away.

“But we mustn’t be complacent – coronavirus hasn’t gone away and it remains deadly for some. We should still keep practicing social distancing and hygiene measures. We should wear face coverings when necessary – the First Minister has announced that these will now be mandatory on public transport and possibly in shops soon too. There’s growing evidence these can stop the virus spreading and if it means other areas of our lives can get back to normal then it’ll be worth it.

“Shops now have plenty stocks of hand sanitiser and face coverings, take them with you whenever you go out. Try to avoid crowded places and continue to wash your hands regularly. If you have symptoms book a test. If we stick to the rules we can hopefully avoid the virus spreading and the risk of another lockdown – stay safe, protect others, save lives.”