First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said guiding Scotland safely through the Covid pandemic is her “number one priority” as she prepares to give her latest update on restrictions.
The SNP leader is due to confirm whether the easing of curbs can go ahead next week as planned, in the hope of returning the country to “something much more like normality”.
Ms Sturgeon had previously indicated Scotland could move from level 3 to level 2 restrictions from Monday 17 May, so long as Covid cases continued to fall and the vaccine rollout carried on as planned.
Her first Covid briefing since her Holyrood election victory is expected to begin around 12 noon, and will be broadcast on the Scottish government’s social media channels.
Speaking ahead of her latest coronavirus update, Ms Sturgeon stressed the need to “remain vigilant” to ensure virus levels do not increase again.
Moving to level 2 under the Scottish government’s five-tier system would mean that friends and family could meet inside houses, with gatherings involving up to four people from no more than two households permitted.
Pubs and restaurants would also be allowed to serve alcohol indoors in level 2, while cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music venues, comedy clubs, amusement arcades and bingo halls would all be allowed to reopen.
However, in Moray, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Scotland, public health bosses have said it is “entirely possible” that the area will not be able to see restrictions eased to level 2.
NHS Grampian deputy director of public health Chris Littlejohn said the situation in the area “remains of great concern”.
On Monday, Boris Johnson confirmed people in England will be able to hug loved ones, dine in restaurants and go on holiday abroad from 17 May.
Earlier in the day the national Covid alert level was downgraded after a “consistent” fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths, with the four chief medical officers of the UK – including Scotland’s Dr Gregor Smith – saying the threat level should be reduced.
“Today we will outline those latest steps in lifting restrictions, while also making clear that we need to remain vigilant against any resurgence in Covid levels across Scotland,” said Ms Sturgeon ahead of her announcement.
On Monday, deputy first minister John Swinney said it was the new Scottish government’s “aspiration” to suppress the virus consistently by the end of 2021 – before pushing on with plans for another vote on independence.