Nicola Sturgeon has told people in Dumfries and Galloway they cannot yet relax any lockdown rules after an outbreak of Covid-19 cases straddling the border with England.
She said those living around Gretna, Annan, Dumfries, Lockerbie, Langholm and Canonbie were still required to stay within five miles of their homes, while outdoor restaurants, pub gardens and care homes would remain closed to visitors at least until next week.
Scotland’s first minister urged locals not to travel to pubs and restaurants in England, which are expected to reopen this weekend, as a precautionary measure until the outbreak had been dealt with.
These lockdown rules are being relaxed for the rest of Scotland on 3 July, but she said 10 new Covid-19 cases had emerged in south-west Scotland, with workers at two factories and a health worker based at Cumberland hospital in Carlisle affected.
Mobile testing units were being sent to the factories, while local health officials had launched a concerted contact-tracing effort. Those restrictions would remain in place until next week at the earliest.
“What we’ve applied today is a targeted, proportionate intervention to try to manage risk,” she said.
Jason Leitch, the Scottish government’s national clinical director, said there had been “excellent cooperation” between NHS officials in Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria.
He said there was no evidence of a wider outbreak beyond the Cumberland hospital but the three workplaces were “high risk” sites. Further tests to assess a suspected outbreak in Grampian had found there was no local cluster, however.
Leitch said staff at Young’s Seafood in Annan and Alpha Solway in Annan, which makes personal protection equipment for the Scottish government, were affected although there was no evidence these factories were the source of the infection.
For the rest of Scotland, outdoor cafes and beer gardens will be allowed to reopen from Monday, after the R number, the rate of infection from coronavirus remained at 0.6 to 0.8, with only about 1,500 people in Scotland thought to be infected.
From 10 July, face coverings would be mandatory in all Scotland’s shops, she added, following similar requirements on public transport and in taxis. The police would empowered to enforce these measures with on-the-spot fines, as a “backstop”, she said.
Sturgeon said Scotland’s physical distancing rules requiring people to stay 2 metres apart would be relaxed for some shops and businesses from 9 July, with customers to be warned when they were entering a 1-metre zone.
The precise details of those mitigation measures for the hospitality, retail and public transport sectors would be announced later on Thursday, to the relief of business and tourism leaders.
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses in the hard-pressed retail, hospitality and tourism sectors will welcome this flexibility. Being able to reduce distances from 2 metres to 1 metre will mean more businesses can now start planning to re-open.”
Children under 11 would be allowed to mingle freely without any social distancing from Friday 3 July said Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer. The restrictions would remain in place for teenagers, and they would still be asked to meet outside in groups no larger than eight.