First minister Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of “brighter days” ahead as she outlined plans to ease Scotland out of lockdown.
Restrictions put in place to suppress the spread of the Covid pandemic will gradually relax in the run up to the summer, with some key dates in April.
The stay-at-home order will be scrapped by 2 April and replaced with guidance to stay within local authority boundaries, unless for essential purposes.
Among the plans, Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that some non-essential shops like garden centres and homeware stores will begin to reopen too.
Here’s when and why.
When will garden centres reopen in Scotland?
The first minister told MSPs that some non-essential shops could reopen at the same time hairdressers and barber salons are scheduled to open their doors once more.
The planned date for garden centres and homeware stores to reopen is Monday 5 April 2021.
On the same date, click and collect retail services, and car showrooms and forecourts can reopen, contact sports for 12-17 year-olds can resume and more students will be allowed to return to on-campus learning among a wider phased relaxing of Covid rules.
The stay local order will be lifted on 26 April when more non-essential shops, libraries, museums, galleries and gyms will also be allowed to reopen under the plans, as well as beer gardens, outdoor service for cafes and restaurants and some indoor hospitality.
What is the plan dependent on?
From the outset Ms Sturgeon said that being able to deliver on the plans is “dependent on continued progress in suppressing the virus and rolling out vaccines”.
Ms Sturgeon warned against complacency of the Covid rules and following the guidance at the appropriate intervals but finished by saying “brighter days are now in sight”.
“Care and caution in the face of this virus continues to be essential,” the first minister said. “What is unambiguously positive so far is the progress of the vaccination programme.”
At the time of speaking (16 March), Ms Sturgeon said that Scotland had vaccinated “virtually all over 65 year olds” and more than 40% of the adult population.
How will Scotland reopen society?
Ms Sturgeon said that the changes will “make a real difference” - but, again, stressed the point that the easing of restrictions was the “maximum we consider possible at that stage”.
The first minister pointed to an “important milestone” in the vaccination programme in April.
“By the middle of April, supplies permitting - which is still a necessary caveat - we will have offered first doses of the vaccine to all nine priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“Those nine groups include everyone over the age of 50 and all adults with particular underlying health conditions.
“They account for a significant majority of Scotland’s adult population – and, crucially, cover groups of the population that between them account for approximately 99% of all Covid-related deaths.
“Reaching that milestone - and taking account of the fact that it takes a couple of weeks for protection from the vaccine to kick in - will give us confidence to ease restrictions much more significantly from 26 April.”