NICOLA Sturgeon has published her long-awaited plan on easing the coronavirus lockdown.

The First Minister published her detailed four-stage route map as she gave a statement at Holyrood and faced questions from MSPs.

Pubs and restaurants could reopen their outdoor areas by late June, and professional sports events restart.

All schools will reopen on August 11, in the third of the four phases, but on a "blended model", with part-time teaching in school and part-time at home.

Childcare providers will start to reopen over the summer.

Ms Sturgeon said the continued suppression of the virus allowed for a careful and gradual easing of restrictions.

She stressed she did not want to see tourist hotspots flooded with day trippers in the coming weeks and said she "almost felt like crying" when she saw pictures of crowds at Edinburgh's Portobello beach yesterday.

She said: “The steps we will take are by necessity gradual and incremental - and they must also be matched with rigorous, ongoing monitoring of the virus. 

“There is no completely risk free way of lifting lockdown. But we must mitigate the risks as much as possible. And we must not at any stage act rashly or recklessly.

“For all our progress, the virus has not gone away. 

“It continues to pose a significant threat to health. And if we move too quickly or without proper care, it could run out of control again very quickly. 

“And the danger of a second wave later in the year is very real. We mustn’t forget any of that. At every stage, though, the biggest single factor in controlling the virus, will be how well we all continue to observe public health advice.”  

She said hand washing, cough hygiene and physical distancing would continue to be essential, with face coverings remaining appropriate.

She said the measures would be accompanied by a Test, Trace and Isolate system, replacing the blanket lockdown with individual lockdowns where people were sick.

The First Minister  said some measures might be lifter sooner than set out in the map if circumstances allowed. 

However she also warned the relaxations might have to be rolled back if the virus returned in force. 

She said the advice to the most vulnerable to the disease, those shielding at home, was not being changed for now, but would be updated before the current shielding period ends on June 18.

The first phase, which is due to start on May 28, depending on scientific advice, involves relaxing the pivotal “stay at home” rule, although staying at home remains advised.  

Instead of people going out only for essential reasons such as food and exercise, they will be able to leave for leisure activities such as golf, fishing, hiking and sitting in the park. Social distancing would still apply however. 

Mirroring the situation in England, garden centres, drive-through food and coffee outlets and recycling centres will be able to reopen, and some people can return to working outdoors.

Each phase will be assessed after three weeks, before progress to the next phase.

If the exit plan takes 12 weeks, it should mean substantially different circumstances by late August, although the level of the virus remains the guiding factor. 

In the second phase, workplaces will be reopened, including factories and warehouses, with physical distancing, although remote working will remain the default position for those able to work at home.

The construction sector will return in a phased manner.

Small stores and outdoor markets will be allowed to open.

Pubs and restaurants will also be able to open their outdoor spaces.

Playgrounds and sports courts will reopen and professional sport restart subject to public health advice.

Places of worship will reopen for private prayer and marriages and civil partnerships will be allowed with minimal numbers of attendees.

Health and dental services will start to relieve “pent up demand”.

In Phase three, people will be able to meet others from more than one household indoors with physical distancing and hygiene measures.

Large shops of all kinds will reopen with physical distancing.

Pubs and restaurants will also reopen their indoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene measures. 

Hairdressers will also reopen, as will gyms, museums, galleries, cinemas, and live venues.

The restrictions on accommodation, such as Airbnb, will be eased.

People will be allowed to meet in “extended groups” subject to physical distancing.

Places of worship will open to larger groups, and restrictions on funerals, marriages and civil partnerships will be extended beyond “close family.” 

On health, health screening services will resume, and dentists reopen for routine care.

Children should be able to return to school under a blended model of part-time in-school teaching and part-time in-home learning, with physical distancing in place.

Subject to scientific evidence, schools are expected to open on this basis on August 11.

All childcare providers will reopen subject to public health measures, with available capacity prioritised to support key worker childcare, early learning and childcare entitlement and children in need.

Universities and colleges should start a phased return with blended model of remote learning and limited on campus learning where priority.  

In the final phase, Stage 4, there will be a further relaxing of restrictions on gatherings.

Mass gatherings will resume in line with public health advice, and all wedding and funeral ceremonies can take place, with improved hygiene and other precautions.

Public transport should be back to a normal timetable, albeit with physical possible distancing. 

There should be a full range of health and social care services provided.

Schools and childcare provision will reopen with any necessary precautions.

College and university campuses will also open – including key student services with any necessary precautions.

All workplaces will be free to open with improved hygiene and in line with public health advice, although remote and flexible working will be encouraged.

Schools and childcare provision will resume with necessary precautions. College and university campuses will open – including key student services with necessary precautions.

Public services should by now be “operating fully” in line with public health advice, with increased use of digital services where appropriate.