Scotland

Coronavirus: Scotland's five-mile travel limit lifted

road sign Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Some residents of rural communities have expressed concerns about the return of tourists during the pandemic

The five-mile travel limit has been lifted and self-contained holiday accommodation can now reopen as virus restrictions in Scotland are eased.

Visits to care homes can also now resume, and physical distancing rules for young people have been relaxed.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots to "behave responsibly" and be "sensitive" to rural communities.

The changes to the travel rules do not apply in parts of Dumfries and Galloway due to a local outbreak of Covid-19.

Further changes to lockdown rules - including the reopening of bars and restaurants - are set to be phased in later in July.

Up until today, people in Scotland have been advised against travelling more than five miles from home for leisure purposes.

However with the infection rate low and fewer than 1,500 people currently thought to be capable of spreading the virus, this restriction is being eased.

Self-catering accommodation which does not have any shared facilities, such as holiday cottages and caravans, can also now reopen.

But visitors have been warned that Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park campsite and camping permit areas remain off limits, despite the easing of the five-mile travel restriction.

Car parks and toilets will reopen from Friday in the national park but camping is not expected to be allowed again until 17 July.

'Good news'

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said the changes were "good news" for a "hard-pressed" sector, but warned that "the onus is on all of us to follow the guidance and ensure the virus continues to be suppressed".

Image caption The Farmhouse Cafe has been using its Highland cow to assist with social distancing

He added: "When travelling, it is essential that plans are made in advance and checks are done on what facilities are open, like public toilets and car parking availability.

"Please ensure you make use of booking systems where available prior to your journey and avoid busy beaches, parks and forests. If you arrive somewhere and it's crowded, it is essential that you try and find another place."

One cafe owner on the island of Tiree has come up with a novel way of ensuring customers socially-distance as they queue for takeaways.

Fiona Armstrong, owner of the Farmhouse Cafe in Balemartine, is using her Highland cow to keep people apart.

Image caption Brian Fairburn got the chance to visit his mum Moira Fairburn face-to-face for the first time in months

Visits to care homes can also resume from Friday, although strict rules will be in place after the facilities were badly hit by the virus.

Residents can have one named "key visitor" attend if their home has been virus-free for 28 days, but they will have to remain outdoors, 2m (6ft 6in) away and must wear a face covering throughout the visit.

At Murray House and Evanthea House care home in Kelso there were no hugs, but lots of smiles as Brian Fairburn got the chance to catch up with his mum Moira face-to-face.

"It's been a long time, because we are used to seeing each other all the time but we can't do anything about it," said Moira. "Things will change but this will have to do for now."

Image caption Despite keeping his distance, Brian Fairburn was delighted to see his mother doing so well

Son Brian said: "It was good to see her again and good to see her in such good spirits. It was quite uplifting to see her the way she was."

There have also been changes for young children, with physical distancing rules being scrapped for those under 12 when meeting other children or adults outdoors.

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped this move would "help children enjoy the summer holidays a bit more" so they could "play more normally with friends".

Image caption Noah, aged 6, was among children able to hug their grandparents for the first time on Friday

Meanwhile young people aged 12 to 17 are allowed to meet people from an unlimited number of households in a day, as long as groups do not exceed eight and physical distancing is maintained.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is only because so many of us have stuck to the rules so far, that we are able to take these steps out of lockdown.

"And only if we continue to stick to the rules will we be able to drive the virus down further, and live less restricted lives in the weeks and months ahead.

"For more businesses to reopen, for public services to get back to normal, for more of us to be able to meet indoors, for our children to go back to school full-time - all of those collective benefits depend on the decisions we make as individuals now and in the days and weeks to come."

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Media captionCoronavirus: Kids and teenagers - what are the new rules?

Scotland is coming out of lockdown at a slower pace than England, something Ms Sturgeon has said she hopes will be "more likely to be sustainable than if we went faster".

Outdoor hospitality, such as beer gardens and outdoor areas of cafes, can begin trading again from Monday.

Further changes are expected to be confirmed by Ms Sturgeon in a statement at Holyrood on Thursday, 9 July.

These will include allowing people to meet with two other households indoors from 10 July, and with extended groups outdoors, as long as physical distancing is maintained.

Shopping centres are likely to be allowed to re-open from 13 July, and indoor areas of pubs and restaurants on 15 July.

Hairdressers and barbers, museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments and libraries and the rest of the tourist industry will also be able to resume business on that date, subject to the continued suppression of the virus.