From next Monday 17 May, the majority of council areas in Scotland will move from level three to level two.
Meanwhile, many of the Scottish islands will move to level one. This will apply to the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, all islands in the Highland Council area - with the exception of Skye - and the islands in the Argyll and Bute area.
Moray however will remain at level three. Here infection rates are more than four times the level currently seen in the rest of Scotland which has caused concerns over restrictions easing there.
The first minister outlined the latest changes in a Covid briefing at lunchtime on Tuesday.
Nicola Sturgeon explained: “The situation overall is now a big positive one and so that means we are in a position to relax more restrictions and restore much more normality to people’s lives.”
She also announced the return of hugs saying: “This means - and I actually feel a wee bit emotional saying this - that from Monday as long as you stay within permitted minutes you can hug your loved ones again.”
Next week’s easing means that people in level two will be allowed to meet in each other’s homes in limited numbers from Monday. Initially this rule will allow groups of up to four people, from no more than two households, to meet up inside and stay overnight in other peoples’ homes.
Children under the age of 12 will not be included on the limit on overall numbers, but are counted in the limit on numbers of different households meeting.
Indoor hospitality is also set to return with restaurants allowed to stay open until 10:30pm. Numbers will be limited to six adults from a maximum of three different households, rather than just two.
Meeting up outdoors will also change with up to eight adults from eight different households allowed to meet. Children under 12 will not be counted in this limit on numbers.
Outoor and indoor events will also be able to resume with limited capacity. This will be a maximum of 100 people seated inside and 250 standing outdoors. Outdoor seated events will be limited to 500 people.
Meanwhile, cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades will be allowed to reopen. Outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercises will also be allowed to restart.
Those living in areas moving into level one will experience even more relaxed restrictions with up to 12 people from 12 households allowed to meet outdoors in private gardens.
Travel has been allowed across the whole of Scotland since the previous phase of easing of restrictions. Travel into and out of Moray may from next week however be limited to “permitted purposes only.” It is expected that a final decision on this will be taken at the end of the week.
It is thought that international travel will also be allowed to restart from 24 May, with Scotland moving to a traffic light system for travel out of the country.
Currently in Scotland, cafes, pubs, non-essential shops and museums are open. Scots can visit shops, swimming pools, libraries, museums and gyms, as well as eating indoors at cafes, pubs and restaurants.
However, only a maximum of six people from two households can meet indoors at a hospitality venue, no alcohol can be served, and indoor socialising must close at 8pm. For those happy to sit outside, alcoholic drinks can be ordered.
The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has urged people to support the retail sector. The group’s director David Lonsdale said: “We encourage Scots to get out and visit their favourite shops over the coming weeks knowing every purchase they make and every item they buy is a local job supported and a high street helped.
“Unlocking consumer spending will be central to Scotland’s economic recovery and to bouncing back quickly.”
Travel between Scotland, England and Wales is also currently permitted and tourist accommodation has also been welcoming back visitors for several weeks.
Key dates as Scotland continues out of lockdown
- Domestic travel ban lifted, ‘stay at home’ guidance removed
- All shops, gyms, libraries, museums, galleries and tourist accommodation to reopen, as well as some indoor hospitality, including pubs restaurants and cafes
- Re-introducing in-home socialising for up to 4 people from up to 2 households
- Further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 10.30pm indoors with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited slots and until 10pm outdoors with alcohol permitted
- Adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
- Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open subject to capacity constraints
- Small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints (to be confirmed following stakeholder engagement)
- Colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
- More in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
- Non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors
- Hugs can resume
7 June (or 17 May for the Scottish islands of Orkney, the Western Isles, Shetland, all islands in the Highland Council area - with the exception of Skye - and the islands in the Argyll and Bute area.)
- Indoor socialising in private homes, including overnight stays, for up to six adults from three households
- Indoor socialising in public places, such as a cafe or restaurant, for up to eight adults from three households
- Outdoor socialising in gardens or public places for up to 12 adults from 12 households
- Travel into England, Wales and Northern Ireland permitted again
- Weddings and funerals can have up to 100 guests
- All shops and businesses can re-open, apart from nightclubs and adult entertainment
- Stadium events can resume, although with limits of maximum crowd sizes
- Move into Level 0, where almost all restrictions lifted
- Indoor socialising in homes, including overnight stays, of up to eight adults from four households
- Indoor socialising in public places, such as a cafe or restaurant, for up to 10 adults from four households
- Outdoor socialising in public or gardens for up to 15 adults from 15 households
- Up to 200 guests allowed at weddings and funerals
- A beginning of a phased return to offices for work, although working from home still encouraged
- All shops and businesses open, except nightclubs and adult entertainment
Unlike in England, the Scottish government has not yet set a target date to remove all restrictions, instead saying it will follow the scientific evidence.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies