Covid restrictions in Scotland tighten from Saturday

Key points from Nicola Sturgeon’s parliamentary statement on Wednesday 13 January 2021

The First Minister announced are six changes to current restrictions. The regulations giving effect to these will, subject to parliament’s approval, take effect on Saturday.

  • Availability and operation of click and collect retail services will be limited. Only retailers selling essential items will be allowed to offer click and collect. This will include, for example, clothes and footwear, baby equipment, homeware and books. All other click and collect services will stop. More importantly, for click and collect services that are allowed, staggered appointments will need to be offered to avoid any potential for queuing, and access inside premises for collection will not be permitted.
  • Secondly, we intend to apply restrictions to takeaway services. Customers will no longer be permitted to go inside to collect takeaway food or coffee. Any outlet wishing to offer takeaway will have to do so from a serving hatch or doorway. This reduces the risk of customers coming into contact indoors with each other, or with staff.
  • Thirdly, we intend to change the rules around consumption of alcohol. At the moment, different parts of Scotland have different laws in relation to the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public places. However, from Saturday, it will be against the law in all level 4 areas of Scotland to drink alcohol outdoors in public. This will mean, for example, that buying a takeaway pint and drinking it outdoors will not be permitted. This is intended to underline and support the fact that we should only be leaving home just now for essential purposes. That includes exercise or recreation but not simple socialising. And when you do leave the home, you should only meet one person from another household, in a group no bigger than two people. That includes exercise or recreation but not simple socialising. And when you do leave the home, you should only meet one person from another household, in a group no bigger than two people.
  • Fourthly, and significantly, we intend to strengthen the obligation on employers to allow their staff to work from home whenever possible. The law already says that we should only be leaving home to go to work if it is work that cannot be done from home. This is a legal obligation that falls on individuals. However we will now introduce statutory guidance to make clear to ensure that employers support employees to work from home wherever possible. For all employers, the basic but vital message is that if your staff were working from home during the first lockdown, they should be working from home now and you should be facilitating that.
  • Fifth, we will strengthen the provisions in relation to work inside people’s houses. We have already issued guidance to the effect that in level 4 areas work is only permitted within a private dwelling if it is essential for the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household. We will now put this guidance into law.
  • The final change is an amendment to the regulations requiring people to stay at home. However, this is intended to close an apparent loophole rather than change the spirit of the law. It will also bring the wording of the stay at home regulations in Scotland into line with the other UK nations. Right now, the law states that people can only leave home for an essential purpose. However, having left home for an essential purpose, someone could then stay out of their home to do something that is not essential without breaching the law as it stands. So the amendment will make it clear that people must not leave or remain outside the home unless it is for an essential purpose. This change will provide legal clarity to facilitate any necessary enforcement. This does not change the range of essential purposes that currently enable people to leave their house – nor does it, for example, put any time limit on how long you can be outdoors for essential exercise. But it does mean that if the police challenge you for being out of the house doing something that is not essential, it will not be a defence to say you initially left the house to do something that was essential.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *