Museums and galleries in Scotland could be allowed to reopen from 26 April under plans to ease Covid restrictions outlined by first minister Nicola Sturgeon this week.
If the data allows, the nation will return to its five-tier levels system from that date, with all mainland areas moving out of lockdown to level three (very high risk) initially. Island communities currently in level three could move to level two.
Outdoor hospitality serving alcohol, and indoor hospitality with no alcohol, will be allowed to resume with a 10pm curfew. Travel restrictions will be eased, permitting people to leave their local areas, and tourist accommodation will be able to reopen.
Outdoor socialising will be extended to allow up to six people from three different households to meet.
The next step in the nation’s phased reopening will be 17 May, when hospitality opening hours will be extended and some small-scale indoor and outdoor events can resume. This is also the earliest date that non-essential international travel could be allowed to resume.
The Scottish Government is aiming to ease most Covid restrictions by the end of June, but some will remain in place for longer.
In order to help businesses prepare for reopening, the government confirmed that all recipients of the Strategic Framework Business Fund would automatically receive a combined two-week supplement and a one-off restart grant of up to £7,500 for eligible retail premises, and up to £19,500 for eligible hospitality and leisure.
The government said: “We are conscious of the continued impact of ongoing restrictions, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society and in relation to those premises and activities that are scheduled to open later, or will struggle to reach their full economic potential while any restrictions are in place.
“We will continue to engage with and listen to those impacted by ongoing restrictions and will provide as much support as possible within the limits of our resources and fiscal powers. While we will probably have to learn to live with coronavirus in the longer term, we can now see a clearer way to eliminating it as a serious threat to public health in Scotland.”
Museums Association director Sharon Heal said: “We welcome the fact that museums will be able to open in line with libraries, that travel within Scotland will be allowed and that tourist accommodation will reopen. Museums have faced a tough year and are keen to maximise the benefits of being open for families, communities and tourists.
“Scottish Government support has been critical in sustaining museums in this difficult period and help to reopen safely and develop sustainable business models has been welcomed. However we know there is pressure on local authority finances and are concerned that this could lead to further budget cuts for the museums that they fund.”