Beer gardens, cafes, shops and gyms are to reopen in Scotland on Monday as Nicola Sturgeon confirmed lockdown easing will go ahead as planned.
The First Minister said the continued suppression of coronavirus and the success of the vaccine rollout meant some restrictions can be lifted.
She told a Covid-19 briefing that on Monday that the country will move from Level 4 to Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s five tiers of restrictions.
It means cafes, restaurants and beer gardens can open, along with non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums.
Hospitality will need to close at 8pm indoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside, and people will be able to meet others for a meal or drink, with up to six people from two households allowed to socialise in a public place.
Updated guidance is being published on collecting customer contact details, requiring venues to take down contact details for all customers, not just the lead member of each group.
Ms Sturgeon said this “additional precaution” was needed to help with contact tracing in the event of a Covid outbreak.
She also stressed that while people would be able to meet indoors in places such as cafes, it was not yet possible for them to meet others in private homes.
“I know that can seem illogical, it can seem really difficult and unfair,” Ms Sturgeon said.
But she said risks of transmitting the virus could be higher in people’s homes, where it is harder to enforce physical distancing and provide the necessary levels of ventilation.
Other changes include the resumption of driving lessons and tests.
Close contact services, such as beauty parlours, can also return.
Funerals and weddings – including post-funeral events and receptions – will be allowed to take place with up to 50 people and alcohol permitted.
Travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted and tourist accommodation can welcome back visitors.
Ms Sturgeon told the briefing that two deaths from coronavirus and 178 positive tests have been recorded in the past 24 hours.
The continued decline in the number of cases, where average daily case numbers have now fallen by more than 90% since early January, means the country could relax restrictions, she said.
Ms Sturgeon said it was expected that all of Scotland would move to Level 2 on Monday May 17 – allowing people to meet in “small numbers” in homes for the first time in many months.
She added that “if circumstances permit” the intention is for Scotland to move to Level 1 restrictions from Monday June 7, before moving to Level 0 in “late June”.
The First Minister said that by the “deeper part of the summer” she hoped “something much more like normality” would be possible.
“We are hopeful, very hopeful, of seeing sustained progress,” she said.
Following the briefing, the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar said: “Credit goes to all our front line workers in the NHS and social care, retail workers and so many more – but also a huge thank-you to the Scottish people who have made huge sacrifices over the last year to get us to this point.
“They would never have thought that the first lockdown would take as long as it did; I’m not sure they thought the second lockdown would take as long as it did – huge sacrifices have been made – and hopefully this is the start of us getting some normality back in our lives while remaining cautious.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton, added: “For a year Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently called for the test and trace system to be beefed up. If new strains arrive in the Scotland we must have the resources in place to swiftly crush them before they can spread.”
Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, said: “It’s welcome that further restrictions will be eased on Monday, but the public health evidence confirms that it is safe to ease other restrictions more quickly than the timetable we have seen so far.
“While caution is important, leaving restrictions in force for longer than they are needed will only harm livelihoods and our economy unnecessarily.
“Undue caution is killing the economy and costing jobs.”