Travel restrictions within Scotland are to be eased this week as the country’s route map out of lockdown continues.
From Friday, Scots will be able to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise, though travel between the mainland and some islands will not be permitted.
Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that six adults from up to six households will be able to meet up outdoors.
The First Minister announced the changes at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
She said a reduction in prevalence of the virus meant some acceleration of planned lockdown easing was possible to support mental health and wellbeing.
It comes a day after beer gardens and outdoor dining areas in England were allowed to reopen in line with the latest easing of the UK Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to “behave responsibly” as indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcomed customers back.
Scotland is on schedule to ease restrictions further with cafes, restaurants, beer gardens, museums, libraries and gyms expected to open from April 26.
Hospitality will need to close their doors at 8pm indoors and 10pm outdoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.
Travel will also be allowed on this date to other parts of Britain, with reviews planned on journeys to Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Sturgeon said: “We are now extremely confident that those parts of the country currently in level four will move to level three on April 26, that’s now less that two weeks away.
“That means, amongst other things, that on that day shops will fully reopen, pubs, cafes and restaurants will also be able to fully open outdoors on April 26 and will be able to open indoors on that date, but on a restricted basis.”
The First Minister also announced that, while Scotland’s islands would be able to move to level two, a decision has been made to align them with the rest of the country to stop the need for travel restrictions to the islands.
From May 17, pubs are set to open indoors until 10.30pm and contact sports, cinemas, and some small scale events can take place.
Up to four people from two households will also be able to meet up indoors.
It was also confirmed at the briefing that a further three people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
The death toll of those who tested positive stands at 7633, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 10,000.
An additional 221 new cases of Covid-19 were also recorded overnight.
The daily test positivity rate is 1.6%, down from the 2.4% reported on Monday when 199 cases were recorded.
According to NHS boards across Scotland, 133 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
The Scottish Government also confirmed that 2,682,706 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 13,983 from the day before.
A total of 605,126 people have received their second dose, a rise of 14,952.
The FM said figures are now at their lowest since September, and have fallen by 40% in the past two weeks.
But she warned against complacency, adding: “We’ve got to be careful not to do too much all at once, because we don’t want the virus quickly gaining ground again, particularly because this new variant is we know more infectious and setting us all back.”