LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Scotland’s top official gave prospective dates for reopening non-essential shops and restaurants but said – “unfortunately” – she couldn’t say when churches would be allowed to hold regular worship services.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday that a relaxing of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures would begin Friday, with a loosening of travel restrictions.
On July 6, outdoor hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen, while non-essential shops inside shopping centers can start welcoming customers on July 13.
On July 15, pubs and restaurants can reopen, along with cinemas, museums, libraries, and hairdressers.
Sturgeon said other venues would require further consideration and assessment.
“These include communal worship, indoor live entertainment venues, outdoor live events under certain conditions, indoor gyms, and the lifting of restrictions on attendance at weddings and unfortunately funerals. I am not able to give indicative dates for these today. However, my judgment now is that these changes are unlikely to take effect before July 23, though we will of course keep that under review,” she said.
Sturgeon’s remarks came a day after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a widespread reopening of venues – including restaurants and public worship – to begin on July 4.
Although the entirety of the United Kingdom went into lockdown on March 23, lifting the restrictions is up to the devolved governments. Northern Ireland has announced public worship can begin on June 29, while Wales has not yet made an announcement.
“Our pace is slightly slower than England’s – but it is, in my view, right for our circumstances and, I hope, it is more likely to be sustainable than if we went faster,” Sturgeon said.
At the beginning of the month, the Scottish bishops sent the government a detailed plan for the safe reopening of churches. Churches in Scotland were reopened for private prayer on June 22, a week after they were opened for private prayer in England.
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