NICOLA Sturgeon has today announced an update on Scotland’s plans to move out of lockdown.

Speaking during an unscheduled briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister was able to confirm that the country was “firmly on track” for a substantial re-opening of the economy on April 26.

She also outlined plans to bring forward some changes on travel and outdoor meetings – something she said would help “support health and wellbeing” during these difficult times.

Here, we outline the key points from her briefing.

Mainland Scotland travel

From this Friday (April 16), travel restrictions in mainland Scotland are to be eased.

From then, people can travel within mainland Scotland for recreational reasons.

This has been brought forward from the previously scheduled April 26 date.

The First Minister also confirmed that it is “likely” that travel restrictions to England and Wales will be lifted on April 26.

Outdoor gatherings

The rules around outdoor socialising will also change from Friday.

Currently, only four people from two households can gather outside.

However, this will change to six people from six households from that date.

April 26 changes

The First Minister said that, while the Scottish Government will still monitor the data, they are “now extremely confident that those parts of the country currently in level 4 will move to level 3 on April 26.”

That means shops can re-open fully, and pubs, cafes and restaurants can re-open outdoors with alcohol.

They can also re-open indoors, without the sale of alcohol.

Ms Sturgeon added that she expects all of Scotland to move to at least Level 2 by May 17, Level 1 by early June, and Level 0 by late June.

She said: "Amongst other things, it means we should be able to meet up in each other’s homes – albeit in small groups – from the middle of May onwards.

“This is something I know we all look forward to.”

The First Minister also announced that, while Scotland’s islands would be able to move to Level 2, the decision has been made to align them with the rest of the country to stop the need for travel restrictions to the islands.

She added: “"I want to be clear again that reaching level 0 is not the extent of our ambitions.

“Later on in the summer - as the number of people who have been vaccinated increases further- we hope that a level of normality well beyond level 0 will become possible.

"I know many people want venues such as nightclubs to reopen, and to be able to have lots of people around to their homes.

“Almost all of us are desperate to be able to hug our loved ones. I remain optimistic that some or all of that will be possible in the months ahead."

‘Significant progress’

“Significant progress” has been made in reducing the number of Covid-19 cases in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Addressing the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said figures are now at their lowest since September, and have fallen by 40% in the past two weeks.

But she warned against complacency as Scotland continues to tackle the virus, saying: “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.”

The latest cases

Scotland has recorded three deaths from coronavirus and 221 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon said.

It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,633.

Giving a Covid-19 update, the First Minister said 222,382 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 222,161 the previous day.

The daily test positivity rate is 1.6%, down from 2.4%.

There are 133 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 21 in 24 hours, and 20 patients are in intensive care, down one.

Ms Sturgeon said 2,682,706 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, up 13,983 from yesterday, and 605,126 have received their second dose.