JULY is looking to be a key month as Scotland seeks to return to some sort of normality.

Yesterday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a number of planned moves for the month including the re-opening of barbers and indoor hospitality, ie pubs and hotels.

Provisional dates for the relaxation of travel restrictions, restarting of the hospitality industry and re-opening of hairdressers are among further route map measures announced on Wednesday.

Setting out indicative dates, the First Minister stressed that while sustained progress has been made to suppress coronavirus (COVID-19), the changes remain contingent on scientific and public health advice.

Physical distancing of 2 metres continues to be required in Scotland. The First Minister confirmed that the Scientific Advisory Group is providing advice on higher transmission risk settings and physical distancing and that she will provide a further update on Jul 2, ahead of the proposed dates for re-opening hospitality.

Indicative early Phase 3 dates announced are intended to give businesses time to prepare for re-opening while adhering to public health and physical distancing measures to protect workers and customers. Final decisions on moving into Phase 3 will be taken in line with the statutory three-weekly review cycle, due on 9 July.

Indicative Phase 2 dates: July 3 – Travel distance limit for leisure will be lifted; and Self-catering holiday accommodation will be permitted, providing it requires no shared facilities between households. July 6, Outdoor hospitality can commence subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review.

Indicative Phase 3 dates: July 10 – People can meet in extended groups outdoors, with physical distancing; Households can meet indoors with up to a maximum of two households, with physical distancing.

July 13– Organised outdoor contact sport can resume for children and young people, subject to guidance; All dental practices begin to see registered patients for non-aerosol routine care, and work will begin to return aerosol generating procedures to practice safely; Increasing capacity within community optometry practices for emergency and essential eye care; Non-essential shops inside shopping centres can re-open, subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review; July 15 – All childcare providers can open subject to individual provider arrangements; All holiday accommodation will be permitted; Indoor hospitality can reopen, subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review; Hairdressers and barbers can reopen with enhanced hygiene measures; Museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments, libraries will re-open with physical distancing and other measures, such as ticketing in advance

Announcing the route map changes, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The sacrifices that have been made – and I know how hard and at times painful they have been – have suppressed the virus. They have also protected the NHS, and have undoubtedly saved a significant number of lives.

“They have also brought us to the position where we can now look ahead with a bit more clarity to our path out of lockdown, and I hope the details announced will provide people and businesses with more certainty in their forward planning.

“But let me be clear that each step on this path depends on us continuing to beat the virus back. That is why we must do everything in our power to avoid steps being reversed.

“The central point in all of this is the virus has not - and it will not - go away of its own accord. It will pose a real and significant threat to us for some time to come.

“Maintaining our progress also means all of us abiding by public health guidance. Wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces, avoiding crowded places, washing our hands and cleaning surfaces regularly, maintaining physical distancing, agreeing to immediately self-isolate and get a test if we have symptoms - all of these basic protections matter now more than ever as we all get out and about a bit more.”