IMAGINE a time when you could meet friends for a drink without worrying about household limits. 

When you could catch a gig in a crowded, sweat-soaked venue, or pack into a theatre for the latest must-see show.

It seems almost fantastical. 

Right now, I'd give anything to pay £6 for a flat pint only to have it immediately knocked out of my hand in a throng of bodies.

Next week will prove crucial for the return of Scotland's battered culture and entertainment sectors.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already signalled a three-week delay in the further easing of lockdown restrictions, which had been pencilled in for June 28.

This wasn't unexpected, given Boris Johnson previously announced England's own "freedom day" will be postponed to July 19.

It makes sense to buy more time in the battle against the fast-spreading Delta variant, which is less responsive to vaccines and increases your likelihood of ending up in hospital.

For the culture sector, however, three other announcements by Ms Sturgeon next week could be just as important.

These include the publication of a paper setting out what life could look like beyond Level 0, "as we get to the point where we can lift all, or virtually all, of the remaining restrictions". 

Linked to this, the Scottish Government will publish the outcome of its review into physical distancing.

"Given the uncertainties of the current situation, we have taken a bit longer to consider this than we originally planned," Ms Sturgeon told MSPs.

"However, I know how important this is for many businesses – in hospitality, certainly, but also for theatres and cinemas and the arts more generally – as they consider how they can operate sustainably over the medium to long term."

Both of these developments will be watched closely by many throughout Scotland.

Elsewhere, the First Minister has promised to consider whether any minor changes to the current levels are possible.

"I am aware that perceived anomalies have arisen as restrictions have eased," Ms Sturgeon said in Holyrood on Tuesday.

"I understand how frustrating that can be, even though there will often be a rational explanation for what may appear to be contradictory. 

"I assure members that, as part of our ongoing review of the rules and regulations that are in place, we will consider whether any changes could or should be made to address such issues."

These "perceived anomalies" have been piling up in recent weeks. 

And while it's great to hear there are often rational explanations for them, simply saying so is not enough.

Scots deserve to have these explanations clearly set out by decision-makers.

Up to 6,000 fans a day – 3,000 per session – have been descending on Glasgow Green to watch the Euros.

Similar events elsewhere in the city have been banned under Glasgow's Level 2 restrictions, which state outdoor seated events should normally have a maximum capacity of 500. 

The Euros are a "flagship event" and many will see the fan zone as a bit of a special case. 

But if the zone is "low risk", as Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said, it's hardly surprising when tricky questions start to be asked about restrictions elsewhere. 

The whole situation has added to unhappiness in other areas, with some parents left angry after it emerged they would not be able to attend nursery graduation celebrations, even if they are outside. 

Meanwhile, for many event organisers, the current physical distancing rules are frankly perplexing. 

Bars and restaurants can operate with one-metre distancing, but live events have been stuck with a crippling two-metre rule. 

This makes many of them simply unviable.

Venues such as the Tron Theatre in Glasgow are left looking longingly at England, where the rules are less strict.

“There is now a gulf between Scotland and England," Andy Arnold, the theatre’s artistic director, told the Sunday Times at the weekend.

"We have a show, Pride and Prejudice, that we produced in 2018 at the Tron which is now opening in the West End to ordinary houses — and we could still be shut up in Scotland.”

Svend McEwan-Brown, director of the East Neuk Festival, said the guidance felt like "walking through a maze". 

Summing up the bizarre situation, he told The Scotsman: "While the audience will have to keep quiet in the concert, wear masks and maintain two-metre distancing, they can all then immediately go into the bar and be one-metre distanced, not wearing masks, talking loudly and drinking.

"How the Scottish Government thinks that is a sane situation is beyond me."

He has a point.

Scotland's culture sector will hope next week offers more clarity and a viable route forward this summer.

For events such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, time is of the essence.

But if perceived anomalies do remain, the Scottish Government has a duty to better explain them, including the thought processes behind how such decisions are reached.

Scotland's towns and cities could look very different in the weeks and months to come.

I'm looking forward to taking my seat as the curtains open. Or even spilling that first pint as the music starts and the crowd surges.