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Analysis: Few will argue with Scotland’s ‘significant and hard-earned’ restriction lifting – but there are still reservations

By James Matthews, Scotland correspondent

Few would argue with Nicola Sturgeon’s characterisation of next Monday, the change it brings and progress back to normality.

Normality with a face mask on, at least.

In a remote sitting of the Scottish Parliament, the first minister’s virtual performance was Festival Edinburgh’s hottest ticket.

Yards from Holyrood, crowds are returning this week to the city for the world’s biggest arts festival. Bringing down the curtain on COVID restrictions in this theatre of culture, and the country beyond, is what the Scottish audience needed. 

And yet, there are reservations.

Take nightclubs, for example.  At least one club owner told us that while he was delighted to have the opportunity to re-open after being shut for months, the practicalities appear prohibitive at first glance. 

How does he convince 1,000 nightclub-goers to wear face masks indoors and where does he find the security staff to enforce it?  

Glasgow’s Chamber of Commerce said it was “very disappointed” that the first minister didn’t encourage a return to office-working, saying city centre businesses would continue to suffer from a lack of customer numbers. 

Next Monday will be a heavy lift – the history of COVID restrictions, and their easing, has taught us that much. 

Nicola Sturgeon said it isn’t a day to cry freedom. 

No one dare, yet.

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