Nicola Sturgeon has said that people "can hug their loved ones again" as a raft of Covid restrictions are lifted across the country. 

Most of Scotland will move to Level 2 of Covid-19 restrictions on Monday, and physical distance rules will be relaxed in certain circumstances.

The First Minister said that a falling number of positive coronavirus cases meant that a planned easing of restrictions can go ahead. 

However, a spiralling outbreak in Moray means that region will stay in level three until the situation is assessed. 

In the rest of the country, four people from two households will be able to meet indoors, six people from three households will be able to meet in a hospitality venue and eight people from eight houses will meet outdoors.

READ MORE: Covid Scotland — What can I do in Level 2 lockdown?

Scotland’s islands will move to Level 1 due to vaccination coverage and low case numbers.

Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, all islands in the Highland Council area with the exception of Skye and the islands in the Argyll and Bute area are affected.


More people will be able to meet up 

Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and bingo halls will also reopen, while alcohol will be served indoors in pubs and restaurants until 10.30pm.  

A 'traffic light system' will also be introduced to allow some international travel.

The “huge success” of the vaccination programme along with compliance with restrictions has meant Scotland’s coronavirus figures have continued to fall, Ms Sturgeon said.

In the last three weeks case numbers have dropped from an average of 226 per day to 177 per day.

However, a very slight increase across the country has been logged, mainly due to the outbreak in Moray.

“The situation in Moray, together with the emergence of new variants globally, should be a sharp reminder to all of us that the virus remains a real threat,” the First Minister said.

The physical distance rules will apply to outdoor settings such as people's gardens, but not indoors or in outdoor public spaces such as parks. 

Ms Sturgeon said that this was because she wanted to ease restrictions "bit by bit and step by step". 

She said: “I actually feel a wee bit emotional saying this, from Monday, as long as you stay within permitted limits, you can hug your loved ones again,” she said.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon lockdown update as Covid rules set to ease

But the First Minister said it remains “vital to be cautious”, saying that dropping social distancing will be reviewed for all situations in the coming weeks.

Caution should also be used where a vulnerable person is involved, the First Minister said.


Hospitality rules have been relaxed

On International travel, the First Minister said that the time had come to move away from "blanket restrictions".

From Monday, managed isolation will still be needed for countries on the “red list” while a 10-day period of self-isolation with two PCR tests will be needed for amber list countries and those arriving from green list countries will be required to take a test when they arrived, but will not need to self-isolate if they do not have the virus.

While green list status should be the “exception not the rule”, 12 countries and territories will be on the list from the start of the initiative, including Iceland, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand and Australia.

“This decision means that, as of now, we have a consistent four nations position on international travel – I think that’s positive,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“It has been made possible because the decisions the UK Government has arrived at are appropriately cautious – I hope this continues to be the case but I need to stress that the Scottish Government will continue to take the decision we consider to be right for Scotland.

“We will not sign up to decisions that will put our progress at risk.”