Scotland will move out of lockdown and back into a level system from the end of April, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The stay at home order will also be lifted by April 5 “if all goes according to plan”, the first minister confirmed.
It means that non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants, hairdressers and gyms will start to open from April 26 as the region-by-region level system returns north of the border.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon told MSPs the vaccination rollout was going well, adding: “It is therefore from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers.
“And, of course, the more of us who are vaccinated and the more we all stick by the rules now, the faster that safe pace is likely to be – if we all stay in this together, our progress will be greater.”
It stands in contrast to the plan to end all Covid lockdown restrictions in England by June 21, announced by Boris Johnson on Monday.
The prime minister has so far ruled out a return to England’s tier system, which led to bitter clashes with regional leaders such as Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
However, many of Johnson’s Conservative backbenchers have demanded that restrictions be eased sooner in areas where infection levels are low.
Restrictions on education have already been eased in Scotland. Some children returned to school on Monday and childcare and early years settings have reopened.
The FM said her route-map out of lockdown should also see more year groups return to school in April.
Sturgeon said she hoped to give “as much clarity as possible” but wanted to avoid “giving false assurance” by picking a date for the end of all curbs.
She said: “I am as confident as I can be that the indicative, staged timetable that I have set out today – from now until late April when the economy will start to substantially reopen – is a reasonable one.
“And in mid-March – when we have made further progress on vaccines and have greater understanding of the impact of the initial phase of school return – I hope we can set out then more detail of the further reopening that will take place over April and May and into a summer when we hope to be living with much greater freedoms than we are today.”
Travel restrictions will remain for “some time yet”, she added.
The FM said it was important that cases of the virus, particularly of new variants of the virus, were not imported.
Johnson announced on Monday that a review of travel curbs in England would report on May 17, raising hopes that foreign holidays will be possible this summer.
Sturgeon said: “We saw over the summer how new cases were imported into Scotland, after the virus had almost been eliminated. We do not want that to happen again.
“In particular we do not want to import new variants of the virus, which could be more resistant to the vaccines that we are currently using.
“And so the strategic framework rightly emphasises the importance of both travel restrictions and test and protect. They will help us to ease restrictions safely.”
Sturgeon said that everyone on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation priority list, including the over-50s, would have their jab by mid-April. This would be followed by the entire adult population in Scotland by the end of July.