People in England and Wales will be able to visit Scotland from April 26 – and will even be allowed to sit indoors at a pub.
Nicola Sturgeon today confirmed restrictions on travelling in and out of Scotland will be lifted in just under a fortnight’s time.
At the same time, Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and bars will also reopen indoors – three weeks earlier than in England.
But those seeking a pint by the fire will be disappointed – as venues are only allowed to open indoors under extremely strict conditions.
From April 26, hospitality venues in Scotland will have to close their indoor areas by 8pm, and won’t be allowed to serve alcohol indoors either.
Indoor gatherings in pubs, restaurants or cafes will also be limited to small groups of no more than two households each.
Meanwhile, indoor gatherings between different households will still be banned altogether in private homes in Scotland.
That means anyone seeing family or friends in Scotland must either meet outdoors in a group of up to six people, or in small non-alcohol-drinking groups inside a public venue.
The limited reopening will however be three weeks quicker than England, where rules ban indoor social gatherings completely until May 17 at the earliest.
Asked if she feared people would come over the border from England to visit a pub indoors in Scotland, First Minister Ms Sturgeon replied: “I think the vast majority of people want to be responsible.
“And for the sake of two weeks, I think it is very easy to overstate that risk.
“Does that mean nobody will do it? I wouldn’t say that. But I think you can easily overstate that.”
Outdoor gatherings in Scotland, including at pubs and restaurants, will be allowed in groups of up to six people from any number of households from this Friday.
Scotland’s limit of six people will not include any children under 12, who can attend an outdoor gathering additionally to six adults.
These conditions are not expected to be relaxed until May 17, the next stage of the easing of lockdown.
The changes are expected when the vast majority of Scotland not already in ‘Level 3’ moves to Level 3 on April 26.
In a boost to tourism, holiday accommodation across Scotland will reopen on that date – for visitors who live in the same household.
Despite this change, guidance on the Scottish government’s website still claimed tourist travel into a Level 3 area will be prohibited.
However, the Scottish government told the Mirror this guidance will soon be updated, and that travel will be “unrestricted” from April 26 – be it from England or from one part of Scotland to another.
It came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Scotland’s ‘stay local’ lockdown rule will be axed 10 days early from this Friday.
People in Scotland were going to be told to stay in their local council area, except for any essential reason, until April 26.
But announcing an early easing of lockdown, Ms Sturgeon said that date will be brought forward to this Friday, April 16.
From Friday morning, people will be able to travel anywhere within Scotland for outdoor socialising, recreation or informal exercise.
Ms Sturgeon said there may yet be future restrictions on travel from parts of the UK with high Covid rates.
And while seeking a UK-wide agreement on foreign travel, Ms Sturgeon said Scots might have to endure restrictions on international travel for far longer as “the price we pay” for fewer restrictions within Scotland.
The First Minister said: “I hope all four nations in the UK will be appropriately cautious when it comes to international travel, because it is our biggest risk of undoing all the progress that we’ve made, frankly.
“Not just in having the virus spread again with new variants, but perhaps new variants undermining the vaccines that we’ve got.”