Scotland is “likely” to maintain COVID restrictions for a further three weeks from 28 June, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Speaking in Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon did not rule out the further easing of restrictions, but said the Scottish government needed to “buy ourselves sufficient time” to allow the vaccination programme to continue its work.
A three-week delay would allow more people to receive a second coronavirus vaccine amid concerns about rising cases of the Delta variant, the first minister added.
The Scottish government had previously expected to move all areas to the lowest level of restrictions, Level 0, on Monday 28 June.
But Ms Sturgeon said the transition is now more likely to happen on 19 July, in line with England.
It comes after a rise in case rates and hospital numbers driven by the spread of the Delta variant which originated in India.
On Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown and said the proposed easing of restrictions on 21 June would not go ahead.
Addressing MSPs on Tuesday, Scotland’s first minister said her government too will adopt a “cautious approach”.
“The UK government just yesterday announced a four-week delay to its plans for lifting COVID restrictions in England. The Scottish government too will continue to adopt a cautious approach,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“I have already confirmed today that no changes will be made this week to the levels that apply in any part of the country.
“Our next full, scheduled review of the protection levels will take place next week and this will consider whether any changes are possible from 28 June onwards – the date when we had hoped we would see the whole country move down to Level 0.
“Now, I will confirm our decision to Parliament next week following that review.
“However, given the current situation and the need to get more people fully vaccinated before we ease up further, it is reasonable – I think – to indicate now that it is unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from 28 June.
“Instead, it is more likely that we will opt to maintain restrictions for a further three weeks from 28 June and use that time to vaccinate, with both doses, as many more people as possible.
“Doing that will give us the best chance later in July of getting back on track and restoring the much greater normality that we all crave.”
In Scotland’s Level 0, up to eight people from four different households can meet indoors and up to 10 people from four different households can meet in a indoor public place such as a restaurant.
Up to 200 people can also attend weddings and funerals.