First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the easing of lockdown restrictions will be delayed by a further three weeks, with a new review date of July 19 issued.
The Scottish Government’s road map out of lockdown originally set out plans for all of Scotland to move to Level 0 on June 28.
However, last week the first minister said it was “unlikely” the country would move on June 28 due to a spike in case numbers linked to the Delta variant.
She suggested that current restrictions would remain until mid-July to allow more time to vaccinate the population – which has now been confirmed.
The change of plans will allow more people to receive the Covid vaccine as the Delta variant continues to spread. The number of new cases have increased by around 40% in the last week, dominated by the Delta variant.
The first minister said: “At the moment, the high number of new Covid cases being recorded is a significant consideration.
“To use the racing analogy, we must not allow the virus to get too far ahead of the vaccines.”
The delay confirmation follows UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that “Freedom” day would move to July 19, bringing Scotland in line with England.
Ms Sturgeon also shared that there is evidence the link between infection and ill health is weakening and means less people are being hospitalised.
She added: “The number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid has fallen from around 10% of reported positive cases at the start of the year, to around 5% now.
“And Covid patients, on average, are spending less time in hospital – though, we should remember that even if they don’t need hospital treatment, some people will suffer significant health harms, including long Covid.”
Changes to weddings and funerals
Ms Sturgeon has also announced changes to the rules surrounding weddings and funerals.
She confirmed that suppliers of wedding services and other people employed by a couple getting married will no longer count towards the cap on numbers.
Anyone accompanying the couple down the aisle will no longer need to wear a face covering and live entertainment can return at receptions while guests remain seated.
Today’s announcement means Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands will remain at Level 1 until July 19.
Meanwhile, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles have been in Level 0 since June 5.
Ms Sturgeon announced that all adults in priority groups one to nine should have received both doses of the Covid vaccine by Sunday, June 27.
She added that all Scottish adults are expected to have had their first dose by July 18 and those aged 40 to 49 should have all had their second dose by July 26.
The government is looking ahead at the need for booster vaccines, potentially in the autumn, and awaiting advice from the JCVI on vaccinations for 12 to 17-year-olds.
The first minister has said that the remaining restrictions under Level 0 could be lifted by August 9 dependent on case rates and the vaccine roll-out.
She added: “We will consider and make a final assessment nearer the time of whether – as we hope – this could include the lifting of the legal requirement to physically distance indoors as well as outdoors.
“The move beyond Level 0 will be a major milestone and it will signal a return to almost complete normality in our day to day lives.
“Of course, while this is a longed-for moment, it is important to recognise that we still have a difficult path to navigate over the next few weeks to meet these milestones and, even assuming we do, the pandemic will not be completely over at this stage.”