SCOTS can now meet up outside in bigger groups and travel across the entire country after Nicola Sturgeon relaxed lockdown rules today.
The SNP chief has sped up the nation’s rolling back of restrictions after the number of new Covid cases plummeted.
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Under the new rules groups of six adults from up to six households can now meet outside for the first time.
Previously only four adults from two different homes were able to mix.
Ms Sturgeon has also relaxed stay local restrictions so people can travel the length and breadth of the country to meet friends and family.
But they must only see people outdoors, and overnight stays are still banned.
Scots are also being asked to stick to their local authority areas for other activities like non-essential shopping.
And travel to some islands still remains off the cards.
Ms Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that the roadmap out of lockdown would be sped up because Covid cases are on the decline.
She said the “significant progress” Scotland has made in battling the virus means it’s now in a position to “accelerate” its exit from restrictions towards a “much greater return to normality”.
In optimistic remarks, she declared: “Covid is in retreat in Scotland, there’s no doubt about that.
“The improved data does not allow us simply to throw caution to the wind, certainly not if we want to be sensible about this, but it does give us a bit of limited headroom.
But she added: “Please do remember that at this stage probably until the middle of May meetings must still be outdoors not inside our own homes.”
Her comments contrasted with a much more gloomy Boris Johnson, who is facing increased pressure to unlock earlier, and today issued a stark hint that his roadmap could change in the future.
And pubs north of the border will open up indoors three weeks ahead of those in England as she speeds up her plans to ease the country’s lockdown.
Bars and restaurants will be able to welcome customers back inside from April 26 “on a restricted basis” – while English boozers have to wait until at least May 17.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s worth noting the restricted indoor opening of hospitality on the 26th will be actually three weeks ahead of any indoor opening of hospitality in England.”
Hospitality will need to close their doors at 8pm indoors and 10pm outdoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.
From May 17, pubs are set to open indoors until 10:30pm and contact sports, cinemas, and some small scale events can take place.
But the First Minister warned restrictions on international travel may have to stay in place for the foreseeable future, to stop new variants of the virus entering the country.
She said: “It may well be the case we do have to endure restrictions on international travel a bit longer as the price we pay for much greater normality here in Scotland.
“We will not keep these restrictions in place for longer than necessary but it is important for now to protect our progress here.
“The best way to keep on making progress out of lockdown is to continue to keep cases low.”