By Colin Beattie

THE Scottish Government has officially announced a move into phase 3 and this week we will see many restrictions lifted.

The First Minister has made two significant changes to previous announcements. The first includes the reopening of churches from July 15, and I know many will be delighted with this change, which will accommodate congregational worship and communal prayer.

The second significant change is that all non-cohabiting partners, and any children under 18 in the household, can form extended households without physical distancing.

In phase 3, a household can meet up to four other households at a time outdoors, which is up to 15 people in total.

A household can meet up to two other households at a time indoors, which is up to eight people in total and includes overnight stays.

I know that many of you will be delighted to be reconnecting with friends and loved ones and I welcome these exciting announcements.

Please keep in mind the important policies around social distancing, where you should remain two metres from those not within your household or extended household. Please also note that face coverings are now compulsory in shops, retail and public transport.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, it has been concerning to see the rise in anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse locally.

I would like to thank the East Lothian Council housing team and the ASB team for their hard work over the last few months and their responsiveness in dealing with the issues which have been brought to them.

The police have also gone above and beyond to ensure those who don’t have a safe home receive the attention and support they need.

If you need support, Scotland’s 24hr Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is available on 0800 027 1234. You can also call the Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline on 08088 01 03 02, email or text 07537 410027.