First Minister: It’s 'unlikely' COVID restrictions will ease further at end of June
The First Minister has said it is "unlikely" that restrictions will ease further in any part of Scotland from the end of June.
The Scottish Government had hoped to see the whole country move to level zero - the tier which most closely resembles normality - from Monday, 28 June.
However, because of a continued rise in cases of COVID-19 and the more infectious Delta variant, Nicola Sturgeon said plans to ease restrictions will "in all probability" be paused.
The decision will be confirmed following the next scheduled review of the protection levels, which will take place next week.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon said: "I will confirm our decision to parliament next week following that review.
"However, given the current situation and the need to get more people fully vaccinated before we ease up further, it is reasonable to indicate now that it is unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from 28 June.
"Instead it is more likely that we will opt to maintain restrictions for a further three weeks from 28 June, and use that time to vaccinate with both doses, as many more people as possible.
"Doing that will give us the best chance later in July of getting back on track and restoring the much greater normality that we all crave."
Sturgeon said 6651 new cases of the virus have been reported over the past week, which compares to 5475 the week before that.
It means cases have risen by more than a fifth in the past week and are now over five times higher than the situation in early May.
The First Minister said: "It's important to point out, given the risk, for example, of long COVID, we should never be complacent about a rising curve of infections.
"However, as I have indicated before, we do hope that vaccination is increasingly protecting people against serious illness.
"If this is indeed the case, then our experience of this virus will become different. And our ability to cope with it in a less restrictive way will become much greater."
She cited two studies from Edinburgh University and Public Health England, which suggest double dose vaccination provides a high level of protection against COVID.
The Scottish Government also plans to publish a paper, Sturgeon confirmed, outlining what it hopes life will look like beyond level zero.
This will be accompanied by the outcome of a review of physical distancing.