Scotland has now gone a full week without any new coronavirus deaths, Nicola Sturgeon said.
Speaking during the daily briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said no Covid-19 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours among patients who have tested positive for the virus – the seventh day in a row without a rise in fatalities.
A total of 2,490 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive, she said.
The figure is lower than the 4,187 deaths reported earlier by the National Records of Scotland as they do not include suspected and probable coronavirus infections.
The latest figures show 18,373 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by five from 18,368 the day before.
Ms Sturgeon said that on three days in the week to July 9, there were no admissions to hospital of confirmed Covid-19 cases and there have been six days in total since June 26 with no coronavirus admissions.
Ms Sturgeon said: “If I think back to the early part of April, into May, what I would have given to stand here and give you figures like that.
“At the peak of this outbreak more than 200 people were for a period being admitted to hospital every day. Let’s not take the risk of going back to that.”
The milestone came as Scotland eased lockdown restrictions further.
The First Minister said: “Today marks the biggest step for Scotland out of lockdown so far.
“The childcare sector can fully open from today, venues like museums, galleries and other attractions can also welcome visitors from today, although in many cases you will need to book tickets in advance.
“Hairdressing services resume today, in fact I understand some opened at midnight (because of) demand. I wish I had known about that.
“The changes are long awaited and have been very hard-earned by everybody across the country.
“But I have to say that I am even more nervous about today’s changes than I have been about earlier changes in previous phases of coming out of lockdown.”
Many of the changes involve indoor activity, she said, adding that the risk of the virus spreading indoors, in a pub for example, is significantly higher than it is outdoors.
“That is why we have deliberately waited until infection levels were very low before allowing these services to restart, that gives us the best possible chances of managing the risk that reopening indoor services creates.
“But it doesn’t remove those risks, and so it is vital – more vital than it has been at any stage of this crisis so far – that all of us stick rigidly to the rules and guidance on how to behave in these different settings.”
Referring to fresh lockdown restrictions in California – where bars, cinemas and restaurants have had to close down again – the First Minister said: “That must be a reminder that our progress out of lockdown could yet go into reverse.
“And it will go into reverse if we see signs that the virus is starting to spread widely in the community again.
“So all of us must do everything we can to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“In the days and weeks ahead, enjoy your first meal out in a long time, if you are able to do that. Enjoy your first drink indoors if you want to do that. Enjoy your first haircut – which I know many of us across the country will certainly do.
“And please support local businesses as you do that where ever you can. They need our support at this time more than ever.”
Asked if the current situation is the “new normal”, she said people will have to get “as comfortable as possible” about living with the current advice around coronavirus.
The First Minister added: “I’m not saying that what we’re doing now is going to be unchanged for a set period of time.
“But we’re not going to be stopping advising people to do what’s encapsulated in the Facts campaign for the foreseeable future.”
Later on Wednesday Ms Sturgeon hailed “the sweetest reunion of all” in posting a selfie while getting her hair cut.
She wore a red tartan face mask in the picture, with hairdresser Julie also wearing a mask along with a visor and disposable gown.