Hospitality, non-essential shops and gyms to reopen on Monday
The whole of Scotland will move into level three coronavirus restrictions on Monday, with hospitality venues and the remaining non-essential shops allowed to reopen as planned.
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the easing of measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the lunchtime briefing, where she also revealed cases of the virus continue to fall in the country.
It means from April 26, all shops which are still closed will pull up the shutters and all close-contact services – such as beauty parlours – can return to business.
It will be possible to collect takeaway food indoors, rather than from a hatch or a window, and cafes, pubs and restaurants can reopen. Alcohol can be served outdoors from then as well.
Hospitality venue will be able to open indoors until 8pm but they are not yet able to sell alcohol indoors, where up to six people from two households can meet.
The First Minister was keen to stress that the requirements for physical distancing in hospitality have not changed from the guidance that was in place previously, after concerns were raised by hospitality associations.
From 26 April, the attendance limit at funerals and weddings will increase from 20 to 50, while tourist accommodation, gyms and swimming pools can reopen.
All remaining restrictions will be lifted at that point for travel anywhere in Scotland and for travel between Scotland, England and Wales.
Restrictions will also be removed on travel to and from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. However, people are advised to check the rules on entry to each place before travelling.
Sturgeon also confirmed lateral flow tests will be available to anyone from Monday. People can order them online for delivery to their home or collect them from COVID testing centres.
Those travelling to and from island communities are encouraged to take two tests before going – one three days before they depart and one on the day they are planning to travel.
A move to level two is expected from May 17, if the data allows, with a move to level one due to happen on 7 June and to level zero in late June.
Sturgeon hopes Scotland will experience something "much more like normality" over the course of July.
However, she emphasised the need for caution in people's behaviour. She said: "The changes that will come into force on Monday, building on the changes we've had in the last couple of weeks, have been really hard earned and long-awaited.
"I know that many people across the country will be looking forward, quite rightly and understandably, to perhaps having a drink in a beer garden, catching up for coffee with a friend in a cafe, going to the shops you've not been able to visit for some time or perhaps taking a break somewhere in Scotland.
"But even as we enjoy all of these moments... we still need to be careful. COVID is at much lower levels than it has been in a long time in Scotland but as you can see from the figures it is still there, it is still circulating."
She added: "We must remember that the virus we are dealing with now is much more infectious than it was when bars and cafes were last open, so it's really important that as we enjoy these new restored freedoms, we continue to be really careful and take all of the required cautions."