Coronavirus: How Scotland's lockdown rules differ from the other nations

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The first minister has indicated there could be some easing of lockdown measures in Scotland from 28 May.

More detail on the plan is expected to be published later this week, which is likely to allow some outdoor work and activities such as golf.

Ms Sturgeon has given an indication of what might happen in Scotland in her "looking beyond lockdown" document. The UK government has issued its "our plan to rebuild" strategy.

How do the rules in Scotland differ from the UK's other nations - and how similar will they be after the end of the month?


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In England, people who cannot work from home are now "actively encouraged to go to work", with construction and manufacturing being explicitly mentioned by the prime minister.

They should still avoid public transport if possible because of social distancing and employers should make workplaces "Covid-secure" - for instance by staggering shifts, rethinking shared equipment and planning safe walking routes.

On Monday 18 May, Northern Ireland introduced "step one" of the loosening of restrictions, which also encouraged those unable to work from home to go back to work on a phased basis.

However in Scotland, the government says businesses should only open if what they do is essential to the effort of tackling the virus or the wellbeing of society.

Tradespeople such as plumbers can carry out maintenance and essential repairs if they are not showing symptoms but no work should be carried out in a household that is self-isolating.

The Scottish government is looking at how some outdoor work may be able to resume safely after 28 May.

People in England are now advised to wear face coverings on public transport or in shops - advice that was first issued in Scotland almost a fortnight earlier.


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In England, the new social distancing guidelines mean that people can take "unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise" and generally spend more time outdoors for leisure purposes.

Sports such as basketball, tennis and fishing are allowed - as long as they involve members of the same household. Golf courses and bowling greens can be used alone or with household members - or with one non-household member if social distancing is maintained.

People are also free to sit in parks, and to "play sports" with people from the same household. Driving to a beach or park is also permitted - but people are being told not travel to other parts of the UK where different rules apply.

Social distancing rules - keeping at least 2m apart from non-household members - must still be adhered to.

In Northern Ireland, phase one of its lockdown easing sees outdoor spaces and public sports amenities reopen. Water sports, golf and tennis as well as angling are permitted.

Golf is now also allowed in Wales, which made the change to bring it into line with England.

Wales also made other "modest" changes, allowing people to exercise outside more than once a day, and reopening some garden centres.

In Scotland, people are now allowed to go outside more than once a day to exercise - but this should continue to take place close to home, either alone or with members of their household.

The change does not allow people to mix with other households or relax outdoors, for instance by sunbathing in a park.

The key message remains that people should stay at home.

But the first minister has indicated that, after 28 May, people will be allowed some outdoor activities such as sitting in a park.

Some sports, such as golf, tennis and fishing, could also be set to resume.

Meeting up

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The new guidelines for England say that two people from different households can now meet in outdoor settings such as parks as long as they stay more than 2m apart.

New rules in Northern Ireland allow groups of up to six people who do not share a household to meet up outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

However, NI ministers did not reach agreement to allow visits to immediate family indoors yet, despite it being part of the first step of the recovery plan.

In Scotland the advice remains that members of different households should not be meeting up.

The measures being considered for introduction after 28 May are likely to include allowing people to meet others from outside their own household in an outdoor setting - but still keeping 2m apart.


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While food stores and other "essential outlets" have remained open, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the "phased reopening" of other shops may begin at the start of June at the earliest.

This will only happen where social distancing rules can be followed.

Garden centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have already reopened and Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland is likely to go down the same route at the end of May.

No date has yet been suggested for the reopening of non-essential retail outlets in Scotland.

Waste recycling facilities are also likely to open in Scotland, as they have in the other three nations.


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Primary schools in England may be able to reopen "in stages" from 1 June at the earliest, according to Boris Johnson.

He says it is also an "ambition" to give secondary pupils doing exams next year some time with their teachers before the summer holidays.

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said the "ambition" was to get some children "back into school before the summer break".

In Northern Ireland, ministers had already ruled out a return of schools before the summer and a phased return is planned for September, to tie in with the start of a new educational year.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said she does not expect schools to reopen as early as 1 June.

The Scottish government has also talked about a phased reopening, with priority given to primary pupils transitioning to secondary and those starting national qualification courses in S3 to S6.

However, Ms Sturgeon has previously warned it is possible there will be no return to school before the summer holidays. In Scotland, these start in late June or early July, a little earlier than in England.

At Monday's briefing, the first minister said she hoped it would be possible to give more information shortly on a likely timetable towards reopening schools.

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