By Colin McNeill and Sandra Dick

Nicola Sturgeon has called on the people of Scotland to work together to create a new, better nation our of the devastation caused by the coronavirus.

The First Minister said the virus had shaken Scots' lives to their core but that "there is an opportunity to see them put back together differently, and see a new way of doing things".

But rather than just restoring what had been wrecked, Sturgeon said the crisis had presented the chance to "think together, and work together, to decide the kind of Scotland we want".

Writing exclusively in The Herald on Sunday, she said: "We can go further than rebuilding, and look seriously at social and economic reform.

"Before this crisis, we were focused on our mission of making Scotland a greener, fairer and more prosperous country. That has not changed. But the place from where we are starting has.

"What do we value in the communities that we live in, and what kind of country, and what kind of society do we really want to be? We have talked about the importance of promoting wellbeing. Those considerations seem ever more important now."

The First Minister believes Scotland's response to the crisis has shown that dramatic change is possible.

"I am confident we can start to begin considering our futures with optimism because this crisis has taught us how we can achieve rapid results under the most demanding circumstances," she said.

"This crisis has prompted us to drive change that otherwise may not have been so urgent. We have seen the great capacity of our society to work together in a common purpose."

Sturgeon this week became the first UK leader to discuss how life will look after the crisis has passed.

UK Ministers have been reluctant to talk publicly about an exit strategy, arguing that it risks undermining the message that people should stay at home in order to curb the spread of the disease.

However, there are signs that they are now looking at ways in which restrictions could be eased without risking another flare-up of the virus.

One option could see people allowed to socialise with up to 10 of their closest family and friends, with small groups of households allowed to "cluster" together.

This could enable family members to meet for meals or friends to share childcare. It could also allow couples who do not live together to see each other.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is drawing up measures to enable businesses to reopen in a "safe and practical way".

Provisions are said to include putting up signs telling workers to stay two metres apart and to go home if they have coronavirus symptoms.

Communal areas such as canteens would be closed unless people could maintain social distancing, and firms would have to ensure there are widespread hand-washing facilities and hand gel.

Former chancellor Philip Hammond said it is essential that businesses are told now what requirements they will have to fulfil when the time comes to reopen so they can begin preparing.

"If we are all going to have to wear face masks travelling on public transport, businesses need to know that now so that businesses that have the capacity to manufacture products like that can start planning to do so," he said.

"If restaurants, when they eventually reopen, are going to have to operate with many fewer tables, they need to start thinking about how they adapt their business model to be able to do that.

"At the moment, for too many businesses, they just don't know what the requirements imposed on them are going to look like and therefore what kind of preparations they need to make."

Hospitals, businesses and schools in Scotland are all expecting a different landscape under the "new normal", post-lockdown life.

Simon Barker, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon in Aberdeen and former chair of BMA Scoland's consultants' committee, said there are still a lot of unknowns about how and when normality will be restored to services.

Barker stressed that some delayed patients would have to wait until 2021 for surgery.

"It's very heartening to have people clapping for the NHS on a Thursday but we're going to need those same people to have a measure of understanding when this ends and they want their hip replacement done, and unfortunately we do not have the capacity to do everybody within a week. It's going to take months to catch up."

New guidance unveiled from the British Retail Consortium suggests non-food retailers could introduce similar measures to supermarkets to enable shoppers to return to safely browsing stores for clothes, household furnishings and beauty items, and garden centres for plants.

Like supermarkets, the strategy – which is supported by the consortium’s Scottish counterpart – would see only limited numbers of shoppers allowed inside shops at any one time.

There will also be flexi-plastic barriers at till points, floor markings to keep shoppers separated by two metres and changing rooms and in-store cafes almost certainly closed.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Our members in pharmacy, grocery and the retailing of pet food have shown during this crisis that it is possible to operate safely and responsibly in this new environment.

"With any reopening of shops in Scotland likely to be undertaken on a phased basis, once government permits trading, this new guide will assist retailers to operate safely and help get the economy moving again.

“It will help customers understand changes to their usual shopping routine and indeed what is expected of them too.”

Pubs and restaurants are expected to be among the last businesses allowed to re-open and they will have drastically fewer customers when they do trade again.

Paul Waterson, spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: “Social distancing will probably mean tables being spread out, some places may have bar service only with people queuing responsibly to be served, or waiter service only.

“It will be very difficult some smaller premises with a capacity of just 40 or 50 people. For them, social distancing may mean they can only have 15 or 16 people in at a time. They will have to decide if it’s worthwhile opening.”

According to Ryan James, chairman of the Glasgow Restaurant Association and owner of Two Fat Ladies, some restaurants may choose to follow the lead of some European restaurants and fit plastic shields around tables.

“We anticipate being in the last tranche of places that are able to open,” he said. “We expect tables to have to be moved so they are two metres apart – in some places that could mean restaurants losing up to 75% of their business.

“I think the days of entire families of groups of 20 people at a time dining out are gone for the moment.”

Schools are already having discussions behind the scenes to lay the foundation for a return to school.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: "We could be looking at smaller class sizes or perhaps children attending in either the morning or afternoon.

“I think reopening is likely to involve some prioritisation of certain learning groups or part-time education in some instances to ensure that physical buildings can comply with social distancing and avoid pupils congregating while still accessing all the hand-washing and practical things we need.”