NICOLA Sturgeon has confirmed Scotland will lift most of its coronavirus restrictions from Monday.

However the First Minister said some mitigations will remain in place, such as requiring face coverings in indoor settings.

In a virtual update to MSPs, she said the number of new cases in Scotland has fallen by two-thirds since early July.

The number of people in hospital and intensive care is also falling, while the take-up of vaccinations has been "exceptional".

But Ms Sturgeon said "declaring freedom" from the virus is "premature", and warned no one can guarantee that restrictions will not be reimposed in the future.

She said: "The move beyond level 0 will entail the lifting of most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions - most notably, on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings.

"It also means that from August 9, no venues will be legally required to close.

"This change is significant and hard-earned. The sacrifices everyone has made over the past year and a half can never be overstated.

"However, while this move will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear that it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck.

"Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is premature."

Ms Sturgeon said it will continue to be the law, subject to existing exemptions, that face coverings must be worn "in all the same indoor settings as is the case now".

Test and Protect will continue to contact-trace positive cases, with an ongoing requirement for indoor hospitality and similar venues to collect the contact details of customers.

Localised restrictions remain on the table, as do travel restrictions to restrict the spread of outbreaks.

The Scottish Government will also continue to advise home working.

Ms Sturgeon said organisers of outdoor events of more than 5,000 and indoor events of more than 2,000 will continue to have to apply for permission "for a limited period".

"This will allow us and local authorities to be assured of the arrangements in place to reduce risk," she said.

The First Minister added: "And even though the law will not stipulate physical distancing, we will continue to advise the public that - especially indoors - keeping a safe distance from people in other households and avoiding crowded places will minimise risk.

"We will also engage with businesses - and issue guidance as necessary - to ensure that safe environments for staff and customers are provided, and that all reasonable steps are taken to reduce the risk of outbreaks."

From August 9, adults who are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid will no longer be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Instead, if someone is double-vaccinated - with at least two weeks having passed since the second dose – and if they have no symptoms, they should get a PCR test as soon as possible.

"If the PCR test is negative, self-isolation can then be ended."

She added: "If a young person aged five to 17 is identified as a close contact, they will need to take a PCR test – but they can end their self-isolation if they test negative.

"Children under the age of five will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test."

Those who have symptoms of, or test positive for, Covid will still be required to self-isolate.