How lockdown will end in Scotland as Nicola Sturgeon announces route map for easing restrictions

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood as she announces route map out of lockdown. Credit: Russell Cheyne/PA

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an indicative timeframe for easing lockdown.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, she said the situation in the nation is "extremely positive and promising" as Covid-19 case numbers were down by almost a third compared to January. But she said the situation was still "quite precarious".

She said it is hoped that from late April - after everyone in priority groups 1 to 9 are vaccinated - the economy can restart, with the reopening of non-essential shops, hospitality, gyms and hairdressers.

It is the aim to have all adults to receive the first dose by the end of July. But until the vast majority of the population are vaccinated, she said the nation needed to rely on restrictions to suppress the virus.

As she laid out a rough timeline for the easing of lockdown, she said more detail would be published in mid-March as the data is reassessed.

Here are the indicative dates for the easing of lockdown. Each stage is three weeks apart from the next.

From February 23:

The partial return of schools started on February 22. Universities and colleges were allowed to have no more than 5% of pupils back on campus where face-to-face teaching is "critical", Sturgeon said.

And the Scottish government will soon look to ease restrictions on care home visiting.

March 15

Sturgeon said she hopes the rest of primary school years 4-7 and more secondary school pupils can return to the classroom.

She also hopes to restart non-contact group sports for 12 to 17-year-olds.

The limit on outdoor mixing could also increase from two people from two households to four people from two households.

April 5

It is the First Minister's "hope and expectation" that stay at home restriction will be lifted, and the final phase of school return can take place.

Communal worship could also restart with restricted numbers to begin with.

And it is hoped that restrictions for outdoor meetings can ease further, to six people from two households.

Retail could also start to reopen.

April 26

Assuming the data allows, Sturgeon hopes that by the last week of April, the nation will move back to a level system for different areas, and all level 4 areas can at least move to level 3.

Sturgeon said: "At that stage, we will begin to reopen the economy and society."

The First Minister backed out of any plans to ease travel in and out of Scotland. She said travel restrictions "are likely to remain so", and she wanted to avoid a situation where cases were imported into Scotland, like last summer.

Sturgeon said the nation's test and protect system will also be a vital tool in easing lockdown.