Lockdown is being eased further in Scotland, as Nicola Sturgeon confirmed dates for indoor pubs and hairdressers to reopen and announced plans to lift restrictions on funerals and worship.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said the ongoing decline in the prevalence of Covid-19 means the country can move into phase three of its four-step plan to exit lockdown.
She confirmed that from Friday, people can meet in extended groups outdoors of up to 15 people from five different households, while adhering to social distancing.
A maximum of eight people from up to three households can meet indoors.
And couples who do not live together will now be able to meet without physically distancing, regardless of their living arrangements.
From Monday, children can enjoy contact sports and shopping centres can fully reopen.
July 15 will see hairdressers, indoor pubs and restaurants re-start business and museums and galleries can also open their doors once again.
The social distancing rule will be relaxed to one metre for certain sectors, including retail, from Friday.
Places of worship can reopen for communal prayer, congregational services and contemplation on July 15, but with restrictions on numbers, singing and chanting.
The contact details of those in attendance will have to be collected.
Restrictions at funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will also be eased on that same date, though wakes and receptions must continue to follow limits on household gatherings and hospitality.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I am well aware that the restrictions we have had to place on attendance at funerals in these last few months have been particularly hard to bear and I am grateful to everyone who has complied, in what I know will have been heart-breaking circumstances.”
From July 22, beauticians and nail salons can reopen and universities and colleges can implement a “phased return to on-campus learning”.
Motorcycle instruction along with theory and hazard tests will be able to return on that date, but not driving lessons or tests in cars.
But the First Minister said she could not yet give a date for other activities, which are unlikely to resume before July 31.
This includes a reopening of non-essential offices and call centres, outdoor live events, indoor entertainment venues such as theatres, music venues and bingo halls, and indoor gyms and non- professional adult outdoor contact sports.
Ms Sturgeon described her statement to Parliament as “the most significant milestone yet in Scotland’s emergence from lockdown”.
She said: “I hope that the measures we have announced or confirmed today are welcome.
“All of them, of course, depend on us keeping the virus under control.
“Eliminating it as far as possible now – ahead of the almost inevitable challenges we will face come winter – remains our objective.
“And we will not hesitate to reimpose restrictions if we consider it necessary to halt the spread of the virus and save lives.”
Phase three could last longer than the scheduled three-week review date, the First Minister said, adding the shift to phase four may take longer.
“Next week represents the most substantial easing of lockdown so far,” she said.
“And everything we learn about this, still new virus – about its infectiousness, its ability to kill, and its potential to do long-term damage to health – should warn us that we mess with it at our peril.
“And so perhaps more than ever, now is a time for great caution.”