Lockdown restrictions in Scotland should be eased “further, faster”, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said on Wednesday.
He said measures scheduled to be eased on May 17 should be brought forward three weeks and lifted on April 26 instead to help protect ‘mental health, physical health and family finances”.
Non-essential retail is set to reopen on April 26 along with cafes, restaurants, beer gardens, museums, libraries and gyms when the whole of the country moves under level three restrictions.
A further easing is scheduled on May 17 under level two restrictions, which will see cinemas and bingo halls reopening and the resumption of outdoor adult contact sport. Pubs will also be able alcohol indoors until 10.30pm or outdoors until 10pm from that date.
But Ross called on Nicola Sturgeon to ease the May 17 restrictions ahead of schedule as a result of more encouraging public health data.
He said: “The UK vaccine scheme is starting to provide us with a path out of this health crisis. “We need to remain cautious – but we also have to recognise the brutal impact that restrictions are having on mental health, physical health and family finances.
“We have to lift restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so, while remaining cautious and playing our part to suppress the virus. Nicola Sturgeon yesterday accepted our case for a faster lifting of restrictions. We now need to see action to get gyms and our hospitality businesses safely opened earlier.
“The encouraging public health data is clear that we should go further, faster. Three weeks earlier might not seem like a long time but for a business waiting on grants from the SNP, with no cash coming in, it’s an age.
“Jobs are on the line and more businesses are going under every day. We must start rebuilding Scotland now and focus all our efforts on protecting jobs and our economic recovery.”
Travel restrictions within Scotland are to be eased this week as the country’s route map out of lockdown continues.
From Friday, Scots will be able to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise, though travel between the mainland and some islands will not be permitted.
Sturgeon also confirmed that six adults from up to six households will be able to meet up outdoors.
She announced the changes at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
The announcement came after beer gardens and outdoor dining areas in England were allowed to reopen in line with the latest easing of the UK Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to “behave responsibly” as indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcomed customers back.