Today, some restrictions on travel and social gatherings are being lifted. Six people from up to six households can now meet outside in Scotland, and people are permitted to travel anywhere in the country to do so, provided they don’t stay overnight.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Restrictions on travel and outdoor meetups ease from today
Last updated: Friday, 16 April, 2021, 13:56
- Six people from up to six households can meet outdoors from today
- Scots able to travel anywhere in the country for day trips as restrictions ease
- Walkers urged to plan ahead for visits to beauty spots as travel rules lift
- Four cases of Covid variant first detected in India found in Scotland
Covid-19 infection levels across UK lowest since autumn
Covid-19 infections across all parts of the UK have fallen to the lowest level since the autumn, new figures suggest.
According to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around one in 480 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to April 10 – down from one in 340 the previous week.
Four cases of Covid variant first detected in India found in Scotland
Four cases of a Covid-19 variant first found in India have been detected in Scotland and could be a “cause for concern” according to one expert. A further 73 cases of the B.1.617 variant have been confirmed in England.
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Press Association that the variant features two “escape mutations” – E484Q and L452R – which “are causing people to be concerned”.
“There’s laboratory evidence that both of these are escape mutations,” he said.
“Basically, applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest that this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine.
“But we don’t know that for certain at the moment.”
Read more here
Factory workers, builders and taxi drivers among jobs with highest Covid-19 death toll
The occupation group of “process, plant and machine operatives” has recorded the highest number of deaths with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate during the pandemic, with an age-standardised death rate of 70 per 100,000.
This is a broad group, which includes miners, quarry workers, construction workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers and rail and tram workers, among many others.
Read more here by our health correspondent Elsa Maishman.
Young people who have already had coronavirus are not fully protected against reinfection - study
A study of 3,000 members of the US Marine Corps, the majority of whom were aged between 18 and 20, showed that ten per cent of participants who had coronavirus tested positive again, Sky News reports.
The study, which was carried out between May and November last year and published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal, shows the risk of Covid-19 infection in young people, according to its researchers.
Pfizer chief executive has reportedly said a third vaccine dose ‘likely’ needed within 12 months
Albert Bourla told broadcaster CNBC: “We need to see what would be the sequence, and for how often we need to do that, that remains to be seen.
“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed,” he said, adding that variants will play a “key role”.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”
It is understood researchers currently do not know how long vaccines provide protection against the coronavirus.
Hillwalkers urged to prepare properly as travel restrictions ease
Hillwalkers are being urged to make sure they are fully prepared for outdoor activities as coronavirus measures are due to be eased.
Restrictions on travel are to be lifted across Scotland on Friday, meaning people can travel across the country for outdoor exercise.
Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed the move but urged those heading for the hills to make sure they are properly prepared and ready to be flexible in their plans.
CEO Stuart Younie said: “We are delighted with the unexpected news this week and particularly for those living in the cities and smaller local authority areas who have had limited access to the outdoors during this lockdown, as they can now get back to doing what they love.
“The last 12 months have demonstrated how important outdoor recreation is for our physical and mental wellbeing, and as things start to ease it will play an important role in our economic recovery, particularly in rural areas.”
Popular destinations are expected to be very busy, meaning walkers and climbers travelling by car may have to set off early or consider going somewhere less populated.
Mountaineering Scotland also advised that to get the most out of their day, people should think carefully about the conditions they are likely to meet on the hill.
Snow still lies extensively on the higher hills and fluctuating temperatures have meant much of it is likely to be very icy.
Heather Morning, adviser for Mountaineering Scotland, said: “An ice axe and crampons to cope with any icy stretches really are still essential items of kit at this time of year.
“People should also be conscious that, with limited opportunity to climb in the hills over the last few months, they may have lost some hill-fitness and may well prefer to take on easier walks to begin with so they can ease themselves back into the swing of things.”
Families set for emotional reunions as Scottish lockdown travel ban lifts
The move was announced earlier in the week by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who said a reduction in prevalence of the virus meant some acceleration of planned lockdown easing was possible to support mental health and wellbeing.
From today, people will be able to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise, though travel between the mainland and some islands will not be permitted. It means many families will be able to reunite in person for the first time since last year.
Rules on gatherings have also been relaxed, with six adults from up to six households able to meet up outside.
Scotland’s current lockdown easing plan will see cafes, restaurants and beer gardens open on April 26, along with shops, gyms, libraries and museums.
Hospitality will need to close their doors at 8pm indoors and 10pm outdoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.
Travel will also be allowed on this date to other parts of Britain, with reviews planned on journeys to Northern Ireland and the Republic.
From May 17, pubs are set to open indoors until 10:30pm and contact sports, cinemas, and some small scale events can take place.
Up to four people from two households will also be able to meet up indoors.
Scotland's national parks urge visitors to 'plan ahead' and respect countryside as restrictions ease
Visitors to Scotland’s national parks have been urged to “behave responsibly” and “have a plan B” if popular walking spots are too busy ahead of restrictions easing this weekend.
The Cairngorms National Park is preparing for a surge in visitors as restrictions on travel and outdoor meetups lift on Friday, 16 April.
Park chiefs however are urging visitors to “plan ahead”, adhere to Covid-19 restrictions still in place and to follow advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) – a government guide on how to respect the countryside.
Read more here.