Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that most of Scotland will enter Level 2 lockdown next week.

People in Scotland will be able to hugged loved ones again from Monday – subject to restrictions – an emotional Nicola Sturgeon has said as she confirmed further lockdown easing.

These changes will include meeting up to six people from three households socialising indoors, restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars opening indoors until 22:30, and cinemas, theatres, comedy clubs, amusement arcades and bingo halls reopening and, quarantine-free international travel.

It comes after the Covid-19 alert level in the UK was downgraded from Level 4 to Level 3 after a "consistent" fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths.

The four chief medical officers of the UK put it down to the success of the vaccination programme and social distancing restrictions.

Here's what you need to know:

Scotland to enter Level 2

The First Minister confirmed that the majority of Scotland will move to Level 2 lockdown from May 17.

Moray will stay in Level 3 and the Scottish Islands will move to Level 1 from Monday.

These changes will include, but are not limited to, being able to meet inside a home, drinking alcohol inside a pub or restaurant, the reintroduction of adult contact sports and meeting eight people from eight households outdoors.

Household changes

The maximum number of people who can meet indoors socially in a home is six people which can be from three households, including for overnight stays.

Hugs are back!

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that hugs will be allowed indoors in Scotland.

The First Minister said: "From Monday, if you are meeting friends and family, within the permitted limits of course, either indoors in a private dwelling or in your garden, our guidance will say that it is no longer necessary to maintain physical distance.

"Which means - and I actually feel a bit emotional as I say this - that from Monday, as long as you stay within permitted limits, you can hug your loved ones again.

"I know how desperate we all are for this - and so I don’t intend to immediately pour cold water on it - but there are two further points I really need to make."

She added: "Close physical contact does still carry risk, I have to be clear about that.

"So if you have loved ones who are vulnerable for any reason, please still be careful. And limit the overall number of people that you choose to have close physical contact with."

Moray decision

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Moray will not move to Level 2 and will stay in Level 3 for a "further period".

The decision comes as health authorities in the area are currently dealing with "uncontrolled, sustained community transmission" of Covid-19, with current restrictions failing to contain the spread.

Latest statistics show Moray had 93.9 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to May 7, significantly higher than the rate in the rest of Scotland.

Travel restrictions will be brought into Moray and people should only enter there for essential purposes only.

Ms Sturgeon said: "In recent days, as you will have seen, Moray has been experiencing a high and increasing number of cases with a small associated increase in hospital admissions.

"Indeed, public health experts consider that Moray is currently experiencing widespread community transmission."

She added: "It is therefore highly probable that Moray will stay at level 3 for a further period.

"It is also important that we take precautions to reduce the risk of the transmission of Covid spreading from Moray to other parts of Scotland, as restrictions ease elsewhere."

"So if Moray does stay in level 3 - which will be finally decided at the end of the week - we will also reimpose travel restrictions for a hopefully short period.

This will mean that travel in and out of Moray will be limited to permitted purposes only."

Islands changes

Many islands in Scotland will move to Level 1 due to low case numbers.

Nicola Sturgeon said: "For our island communities, the situation is different and much more positive.

"Case numbers have consistently been at very low levels for some time now.

"Many islands also now have very good vaccination coverage, and lateral flow tests are available for all people travelling to the islands from other parts of Scotland.

"For those reasons, we have decided that it is possible to ease restrictions more quickly for communities in the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney for all islands in Highland, except Skye, given its fixed link and for the Inner Hebrides islands in Argyll - including Islay, Jura and Mull.

"All of these areas will move directly to level 1 from Monday, rather than to level 2."

International Travel

People in Scotland will be able to travel to some foreign destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

It will be part of a traffic lights system, similar to that in England, and will come into effect on May 17.

Countries are to be classified as green, amber and red and a review will take place every four weeks.

Nicola Sturgeon said: "At the outset, let me be very clear that we still intend to be highly cautious on international travel - given the risk of new variants - but we consider that the situation now allows us to begin a careful move away from blanket restrictions on non-essential travel.

"From Monday, we will move to a traffic light system, informed by risk assessments prepared by the Joint Biosecurity Centre. These assessments will be based on the state of the pandemic in each country across the world - including the presence of variants of concern."

These green countries include:

  • Portugal
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Tristan de Cunh and Ascension Island

Latest case numbers

The First Minister was unable to update on the latest Covid numbers due to "IT issues".

Nicola Sturgeon said: "I hope that will be resolved soon, and I can assure you that all of today's figures will be published just as quickly as possible.

"You'll be able to access them when they're published on the Scottish Government website."