First Minister sets out dates for easing COVID-19 restrictions
The First Minister has set out a timeline for easing coronavirus restrictions, including when hairdressers and the hospitality sector can reopen their doors.
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the Scottish Government's 'Stay at Home' requirement will be replaced with a 'Stay Local' message on 2 April, with local authority travel restrictions to continue until 26 April when journeys across mainland Scotland are due to be permitted.
From 5 April, outdoor contact sport for 12 to 17 year olds can resume, while garden centres, hairdressers and barbers, and a number of other retail services, such as homeware and car showrooms, will be allowed to operate.
By mid-April, the government hopes to have offered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to all of the nine Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunity priority groups.
From 26 April all parts of Scotland in level four would move to a modified level three and the island communities in level three will have the option to move to level two.
It is hoped travel with the rest of the UK can resume from then or "as soon as possible thereafter", Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.
From that date however, there will be an extension of outdoor socialising to allow six people from three households to gather, the remaining shops can reopen, as can gyms and tourist accommodation, while weddings and funerals for up to 50 will be allowed. Outdoor hospitality with alcohol should be able to reopen until 10pm and limited indoor hospitality without alcohol can open until 8pm. Libraries, museums and galleries will also be allowed to reopen.
From 17 May, as many level three areas as possible will move to level two and the government hopes to reintroduce mixing in homes for up to four people from two households and a further reopening of hospitality.
Bars, restaurants and cafes would be allowed to stay open indoors with alcohol permitted "within more normal opening hours".
Cinemas and bingo halls would also be able to reopen, while small-scale indoor and outdoor events can reopen subject to capacity limits and colleges and universities can return to blended learning.
Sturgeon said: "Presiding Officer, three months ago when we had to reimpose lockdowns in the depths of December, it was a dark moment in an unbelievably tough year.
"I know how difficult the last few months have been and I will never underestimate and I will never stop being grateful for the sacrifices... that everyone has made.
"But now thanks to those sacrifices and the success of the vaccination programme, we are in a much brighter position.
"As we move further into spring, children and young people will be back in school full time, shops and services we hope will be reopen, we will be able to travel more widely, we will be able to see more of our friends and loved ones and start to meet again in bars, cafes and restaurants."