Scotland will have “fundamental differences” to England after 19 July, with certain restrictions continuing for a much longer time, Kate Forbes has said.
The Finance Secretary explained that some legal restrictions, such as wearing face masks, are likely to continue even after 9 August, when Scotland plans to move “beyond Level 0”.
Under the current plan, all of Scotland is expected to move to Level 0 on 19 July, allowing slightly more freedoms, including groups of up to eight people in homes and 10 in pubs and restaurants; although from just four households.
But on that same day, all laws on mask wearing and social distancing in England are likely to be scrapped entirely, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated.
Scotland’s First Minister previously announced that the next easing of “major” legal limits are expected to happen on 9 August north of the border.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Forbes also said the Scottish Government “expect there to be some baseline measures” that will be in force beyond that date.
Warning that Scotland was still in a “fragile position”, she said: “We all want to get back to some form of normality and the First Minister has set out in Scotland our own timetable.
“There are some similarities but there are two fundamental differences with Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday.
“The first is, on the timetable itself: we have said that all of Scotland will move to Level 0 on 19 July, so that includes the easing of physical distancing indoors and outdoors, and then we’ll move beyond Level Zero from 9 August.”
Forbes added: “But we do think that there will still be some baseline measures – for example the wearing of face masks – which will continue for a longer period of time because we all know the virus is still with us and it is still infectious.”
Earlier on the programme, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he would like Scotland to follow the UK Government’s plan to lift all restrictions.
“We have to learn to live with Covid-19, it’s going to be with us going forward, and I think it is time to start to get our lives back to normal as much as possible,” he said.
Ross said that businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, are “really struggling” with the restrictions currently imposed and the success of the vaccine rollout should allow them to be completely lifted.
He said the Scottish Government should be “signalling that these restrictions will be eased from 19 July”.
But he added: “What we’ve heard here in Scotland is the Health Secretary suggesting we may not see a reduction in the restrictions on 19 July or 9 August.
“I’m saying that’s as a result of the increase in cases according to the Health Secretary, but what he should really be focusing on is the fact that the number of people being contacted by test and protect in Scotland has dropped.”
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