Business leaders, people shielding and retail outlets have spoken of their joy as the next stage of the country’s exit out of lockdown was unveiled.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made her announcement on the second phase of Scotland’s four-phase route-map out of the crisis.
Her announcement was good news for those in the shielded category, who can now meet with one household outdoors, and single people, who can form an ‘extended household’ with one other household to meet indoors and without physical restrictions.
And those who are not shielding can now meet with more households outside. The limit has increased from meeting one household to meeting two. This must still be in a group of eight or less and the need for physical distancing remains.
But, people who are not shielding can now use toilets indoors while visiting the outdoors of another household, however they must avoid touching surfaces.
Former Evening Express reporter Hamish McKay, 73, who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has been shielding at home in Seaton for the last three months and has set his sights on a trip to his local park now the restrictions are easing.
Hamish said: “The unlimited aspect of the putative exercise period is an unexpected bonus for shielders in the scheduled announcement by the First Minister.
“It certainly is splendid and unexpected news to me as a shielder.
“I was secretary of the Friends of the Seaton Park and people tell me it is looking in great shape.
“So I think I will go for a walk there.”
Aberdeen-based defence solicitor Peter Keene, who has Diabetes, has also been shielding and welcomed the lifting of exercise restrictions .
He said: “Of course I am pleased but this is decision based on health or economy?
“I would like to think it is relatively safe to go outside but what does it mean for my job as I often get close to people in court?”
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Meanwhile, shops are also gearing up to reopen their doors off the back of the announcement.
Street-access retail can reopen from June 29, once guidance is implemented but shops inside centres must remain closed until phase three.
Outdoor markets can reopen with physical distancing measures and controls on numbers from June 29.
Beaverbrooks, which has an outlet on the city’s Union Street is initially planning to reopen its stores in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow Fort and Fort Kinnaird (Edinburgh) on Monday.
The jewellery firm has revealed plans for reopening safely, including floor markings and physical boundaries to ensure safe social distancing for customers and colleagues, daily temperature checks for team members, and hand sanitizer stations at the entrance and throughout the store which will be mandatory for shoppers to use before entering.
Anna Blackburn, managing director at Beaverbrooks, which has a branch on Union Street said: “The directors and I, along with the senior management team have been actively involved in the reopening plans, from personal visits to stores and the warehouse to help implement the changes to ensure the safety of our people, to developing the plans for reformatting of stores in line with government guidance.
“It has been a challenging and uncertain time for all of us, but we are feeling optimistic about the future.
“Many of our 960 colleagues are back in stores already and welcoming customers in England and Northern Ireland, so we look forward to doing the same in our Scottish stores.”
Primark also has an on-street entrance, though a spokeswoman for the fast fashion-chain said: “We are still working through our plans for re-opening in Scotland and can confirm that we have not announced an official re-opening date for Primark in Scotland.Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers.
“That is why we will only re-open our stores in Scotland once we are convinced that it is safe and right to do so. We are closely following all safety advice from government and will treat this as the minimum standard across all our stores.”
While, Shona Lawrie, Marks &Spencer head of region for Scotland North said: “Over the last couple of months our teams have been incredible in the ways they have adapted to support local customers and communities.
“Every store has been brilliant at implementing the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures to help customers shop for Food, and we’ll be bringing those lessons and insights over to Clothing & Home in stores across Scotland that the government has announced can open.
“Preparation is now well underway for the 29th June – from the installation of perspex screens at tills, to putting in new signage. Whilst shopping may feel different at our St Nicholas Street and Union Square stores, there will still be the same great service and expert advice customers expect, as well as more digital solutions to supplement the in-store experience – such as our enhanced online bra fit tool.”
Adrian Watson of Aberdeen Inspired said: “Like everybody else, our businesses understand that public safety and well-being are paramount and recognise the step taken to move, of a fashion, into Phase 2 of easing the lockdown.
“Useful too that there will be at least be a review of the ‘2 metre ruling’ as this has significant impact on all that we are looking to do in getting the local and national economy going, which is becoming ever so more critical as time moves on.”
“Of course, many of the ‘non-essential’ shops at least now know that they are gearing up for a June 29 re-opening and this will be welcomed, but we hope to see this complimented, in early course, with the opening of outdoor hospitality and a quick transition to phase 3 where we see the remaining retail and wider hospitality brought back into play.”
And college and university staff can also return to work under the easing of restrictions in order to make preparations for restarting in phase three.
An Aberdeen University said: “We welcome the announcement from the Scottish Government, which allows us to take forward work to ensure a safe return to our campuses for our staff and students.
“Our Campus Planning Group has been developing plans for some time for a phased return to on-campus working that prioritises a return to lab-based research with physical distancing, alongside preparing to offer blended learning in the next academic year.
“Our key workers have been on campus throughout the lockdown period to provide essential services, and they continue to play a crucial role. The resumption of on-campus activities is a complex logistical task – our involvement in the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 research response means that some of our labs have already been open for several weeks, and we will draw on this experience as we open up other labs in due course.
“Other elements include timetabling, physical space management, and the enhanced provision of hygiene facilities, all of which require detailed planning to ensure we provide a safe environment on campus for students and staff in line with national guidance.”