The First Minister has warned people in Scotland not to book an Easter trip abroad or at home
While people in Scotland have now been in the country’s second national lockdown for more than nine weeks, it has been confirmed that we will be waiting some time longer to enjoy a break away from our homes.
So, what did the First Minister say about travel restrictions? This is what we know so far.
What did Nicola Sturgeon say in her announcement?
Addressing the Scottish Parliament on 23 February, the First Minister unveiled a “revised strategic framework” in the form of four phases, which detailed how restrictions will be gradually lifted in the country.
It follows Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday of England’s roadmap out of lockdown, with a four-step exit strategy to reopen the country starting on 8 March.
Sturgeon announced the reopening of the economy from 26 April, including shops, hospitality, gyms and hairdressers, as well as detailing a return to the levels system that was in place before the lockdown.
No dates were confirmed for when people living in Scotland will be able to take ‘staycations’.
Hotels, self-contained accommodation, campsites and B&Bs were not mentioned in the initial stages of easing restrictions.
What are the current travel rules?
In Scotland, “exercise can start and finish” up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area, according to the current rules.
One exception to this rule is that travel is allowed within Orkney, Shetland and many of the Western Isles.
Travel is currently permitted for essential care, work which cannot be permitted at home and to attend essential shops which are not located in your local authority.
When will I be able to travel within Scotland?
The First Minister said in her statement that she would not provide dates for when holidays or staycations can resume as she does not want to give false promises to businesses which are not reopening in the first two stages of the route map out of lockdown.
She said: “I want to give as much [information] as possible today – while avoiding giving false assurance or picking arbitrary dates that have no grounding at this stage in any objective assessment.
“I am as confident as I can be that the indicative, staged, timetable that I have set out today – from now until late April when the economy will start to substantially re-open – is a reasonable one.
“I hope we can set out then more detail of the further re-opening that will take place over April and May and into a summer when we hope to be living with much greater freedoms than we are today.
“For now, however, the most important priority we still have is to suppress the virus.”
Sturgeon has already stated that people should not book trips abroad or in Scotland for the Easter holidays, but that summer staycations could be on the cards.
On 17 February, she told the Scottish Parliament: “For the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be – but this will depend on the data nearer the time.”
When can I travel to other parts of the UK?
Travel around the rest of the UK has also not been given a provisional date by the Scottish Government , and is also dependent on when leaders in England, Northern Ireland and Wales permit travel into their areas.
While the Scottish Government could allow people to travel into other parts of the UK at the same time as staycations in Scotland are permitted, the ability to travel into other areas will also be down to the approach taken by other nations.
People from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be allowed to travel into Scotland until their devolved governments permit travel and the Scottish Government welcomes travel into Scotland from elsewhere in the UK.
What Covid safety rules will continue once travel opens up?
Nicola Sturgeon has disclosed that there will be a tiered approach to easing restrictions, which means rules will still be in place when businesses reopen and could continue when travel resumes.
In the previous tier three restrictions, people in Scotland had to wear face coverings in indoor facilities and on public transport.
There were also social distancing rules in parks and public spaces as well as reduced transport and localised restrictions which meant you couldn’t travel into some areas if infection rates were high.
It is not known whether these regulations could be reintroduced, though it is likely that some restrictive measures will be taken.
In England there will still be some social distancing requirements until 21 June so it’s probable that Scotland could follow suit.
UK ministers will review restrictions on social distancing and other “long-term measures” designed to reduce transmission, including the “one metre plus” rule and the wearing of face coverings in England, before the fourth step (expected on 21 June).
Will I need a vaccine passport?
A coronavirus vaccine passport system could be introduced in Scotland in the future, Scotland’s national clinical director Prof Jason Leitch said on 28 January.
on 23 February following her briefing, Ms Sturgeon responded to LibDem MSP Willie Rennie’s question on Covid passports by stating that she had not ruled out certification to allow people to travel abroad, though did not say whether they could be introduced for accessing hospitality settings or acquiring employment.
However, Professor Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford has said: “The intended use will have significant implications across a wide range of legal and ethical issues that need to be fully explored and could inadvertently discriminate or exacerbate existing inequalities.
“There is a risk that they could unjustly discriminate in hiring, attending events, insurance companies housing applications – you can think of many examples.
She added: “There are also additional concerns about whether the vaccine data – the vaccination data – could be linked for unintended reasons, such as immigration authorities.”