Care home visits to resume in early March
The routine indoor visiting of care home residents by relatives, friends and carers will resume from early March.
Residents will be allowed up to two designated visitors each, who can each visit once a week.
More than 99.9 per cent of older care home residents and 92 per cent of staff have now had their first dose of the COVID vaccine.
The national picture in relation to outbreaks at care homes is improving, with National Records of Scotland data showing that deaths in care homes have fallen by 62% in the last three weeks.
Visitors will need to wear face coverings and any PPE requested by the care home. They are also strongly encouraged to take a COVID test on-site.
The Scottish Government said the expectation is now that homes will facilitate regular weekly contact, as long as certain safety conditions are met.
It will then work to gradually increase the frequency and duration of contact.
Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman said: "The decisions regarding restrictions on visiting for care home residents have been some of the most difficult we have faced and I have the greatest sympathy for those who have been unable to see relatives and loved ones in person for so long.
"Care home staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support continued contact between residents and their loved ones but these restrictions have been hugely challenging for them, as well as for care home staff and colleagues.
"We deeply regret the deaths and other harm caused by coronavirus in our care homes, but we also recognise the harm caused to the wellbeing of residents and families as a result of an inability to see those they love.
"We must remain vigilant about the risks but with multiple layers of protection now in place the balance is in favour of allowing visits. Everyone, including visitors, has a responsibility to ensure that visits take place as safely as possible by continuing to follow safety advice.
"The additional protection in place includes infection prevention and control measures; personal protective equipment in care homes and testing of staff and visiting professionals to care homes, which have developed processes and protocols for safer indoor visiting to take place.
"The guidance we are publishing sets out an expectation that providers will put in place arrangements to enable regular visits to resume from early March and from the discussions I have had with providers, I now expect all care homes to have embraced this guidance by mid-March."