Boris under pressure to relax more lockdown rules as Scotland and Northern Ireland will have more freedom to meet up


BORIS Johnson is today under pressure to relax more lockdown rules in England – after it emerged that they would have less freedom to meet up than in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Scots will be able to meet up with multiple family and friends from May 28 onwards if they stay 2m apart and outside – Nicola Sturgeon said today.

Friends in Scotland will be able to meet up in parks from next week  – if they stay 2m apart
Nicola Sturgeon laid out her roadmap today

As part of her plan to ease the lockdown, it will mean that anyone can meet with people from one other household, outdoors.

That can even be in each other’s gardens, the new Scottish plan said today.

But it will only happen if the scientific advice says the R rate of transmission is still under control, she said.

She told Scotland this lunchtime: “You will be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and you will be able to meet people from one other household, though initially in small numbers, while you are outside.

“This is a change which we hope will benefit everyone, but particularly those without gardens, and people who live on their own.

“However it is important to stress that different households should remain two metres apart from each other – that is critical in ensuring that this change doesn’t provide the virus with easy routes of transmission.”

The change means the rules will be different to England, where only two people are allowed to meet outside at one time – and they must stay two metres apart.

And people in England are allowed to meet up with people from other households too – they do not have to just pick one.

Ms Sturgeon’s announcement comes as the UK has been fractured by different approaches to exiting lockdown.

People in England have been allowed to spend leisure time outside since last week – but Scotland won’t be able to sunbathe or spend more time outdoors until next week.

And in Northern Ireland, up to six people can meet up outside at one time.

Ms Sturgeon set out a four phase approach to easing lockdown restrictions after Scotland refused to follow the PM’s plan to relax measures.

Her plan included:

  • Schools will open to more pupils from August, not June 1 like in England
  • More time allowed outdoors – including for sunbathing, sport and picnics
  • People from different households will be able to see one another but only in small, socially distanced groups
  • Outdoor shops such as garden centres will be allowed to reopen
  • Resumption of NHS services paused to clear beds for COVID-19 patients
  • Outdoor businesses such as agriculture, forestry and construction encouraged to return to safe working

Teachers and other school staff will begin returning to classrooms in June, without students, so they are prepared to get kids learning on a part-time basis.

Ms Sturgeon said today: “Teachers and other staff will return during June to prepare classrooms.

“On 11 August, all schools will reopen.

“Children will return to a blended model with part in school and part time at home.

“These arrangements will not represent a complete return to normality but we judge them to be most sensible (changes to lockdown).”

The news will mean people can meet up in small groups – but only from one other household

This means Scottish students won’t follow some English primary school pupils who are due to head by on June 1.

But Scottish schools break up for their summer holidays at the end of June and do not head back until August based on a regular timetable.