COVID in Fife: Kingdom prepares for move to Level Zero restrictions
Fife is set to take another step towards normality next week when the region moves into Level-0 restrictions.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that mainland Scotland will move to the lowest level of Covid-19 restrictions from July 19 but has warned people they must not yet drop their guard.
Ms Sturgeon has highlighted the importance of the continued use of face coverings and physical distancing.
The move to Level 0 included some changes to the Scottish Government’s plans, including a delay in the return to office work and a midnight curfew on indoor hospitality.
The First Minister also announced that physical distancing of one metre will continue to apply outdoors.
As part of the changes, Scots will be allowed to meet up to 10 people from four households in a public place, and eight people from four households at home.
The number of people allowed to attend weddings and funerals will also increase to 200.
Hospitality venues in Fife have welcomed the changes but said they will not have a huge impact.
John Wilson, proprietor of Betty Nicols pub in Kirkcaldy’s Merchants Quarter, said: “The movement to Level 0 only has two new decisions for the licensed trade. - 10 people from up to four households can meet indoors, an increase from eight people, and we can remain open until midnight instead of 11.00pm previously.
“But all in all the change to Level 0 makes no real difference to the trade. “He added: “This is no surprise as it was communicated many months ago what Level 0 would be – very little has changed in the announcement.”
He added: “Given the continued high numbers of Covid cases, there was no dramatic changes expected.”
Jason Borthwick, owner of the Burntisland Sands Hotel, said: “All the changes are very welcome and another positive step back to normality. I sympathise with the late night venues as I’m not convinced of the value of the 12 o’ clock restriction but it doesn’t impact on us a great deal.”
Alan Mitchell, chief executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce, said the easing of more restrictions were welcomed and that the travel and hospitality sectors will benefit.
He said: “We welcome that the First Minister re-stated her hope that we can move beyond Level 0 on August 9.
“But it remains just that: her “hope”, rather than a firm decision that businesses can have confidence will be implemented. She displayed her traditional cautious approach again today by not proceeding with other changes that should have been part of the move to Level 0, causing further pain to many businesses and their staff.
“It is not easy for businesses to be confident that future easings will go ahead and that makes it very hard for them to plan for re-opening and recovery.”
In terms of the postponement to office working, Fife Council said that where possible employees are being supported to continue to work from home.
Sharon McKenzie, head of human resources, said: "We will continue to follow Scottish Government and public health guidance to keep employees and the public safe.
"Planning is underway to welcome employees back to the office when it's appropriate to do so and like many other organisations we are considering opportunities for new ways of working."