First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday outlined a roadmap for the nation to start loosening the coronavirus restrictions.
The SNP leader said the lockdown will be lifted in four phases. The first phase is supposed to begin on 28 May, if the number of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths continues to fall. Much of the easing during that stage would repeat what already happened in England last week.
For instance, Scots will now be encouraged to go back to work if they can't work from home, and will also be allowed to use public outdoor spaces for recreational acitvities, such as sit on a bench or sunbathe, as well as travel short distances for leisure or exercise.
People from different households will be able to meet up outdoors, providing that social distance is kept. In England, such meetings can happen between no more than two persons and only in an outdoor open space. Sturgeon's roadmap allows outdoor meetings on private property (e.g. in gardens) and does not specify the number of people.
Sturgey's plan has not spelt out a specific timeframe for the next stages. The nation is expected to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 when the the reproduction number of the new coronavirus is consistently below 1 (it is currently hovering between 0.7 and 1), and the number of new cases is showing a "sustained decline".
In Phase 2, Scots will be allowed to gather outside in larger groups including family and friends, but still upholding social distancing. Small shops, pubs, places of worship, playgrounds, and sports courts, will also be allowed to reopen with social distancing and increased hygiene measures. Restaurants, bars, and hairdressers will be able to open outdoor spaces.
Phase 3 will feel "closer to normal"; this is the moment the government the virus to have been suppressed. Meetings will allowed between members of more than two households, while larger retail and indoor office workplaces will be able to reopen too.
All Scottish schools are expected to reopen on 11 August, two months later than in England, but teachers would return in June to prepare for the new term and a new model of learning, with children splitting their school time between class and home learning. Other lockdown restrictions, including the work of public transport, will be relaxed further during Phase 4.
The document admits, however, that "the reality is that there is much that we do not yet know about the virus and the way in which the pandemic will develop. As mentioned above, not everything will happen in one phase or necessarily at the same time."
"It may be that we can do some of the things planned for one phase, but not others. Some things may happen more quickly, some will take longer."
There have been 14,856 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,221 deaths in Scotland as of Thursday. Of the positive cases, 909 patients are still being treated in hospitals, including 43 in intensive care.