FM confirms latest easing of coronavirus restrictions to go ahead as planned

Hairdressers, garden centres and click-and-collect services will be able to reopen next week - as some of Scotland's Covid-19 restrictions are lifted as planned.

Car showrooms and homeware stores will also be allowed to reopen, while contact sport for 12 to 17-year-olds can resume, along with on-campus learning for college students.

From Friday, the message to stay at home will be lifted - and replaced with a "stay local" rule - meaning people still cannot travel outside their council area for non-essential reasons.

Further changes are expected on April 26, with a lifting of the stay local rule and the opening of more parts of the economy.

It comes as the latest data shows that the average daily case rate is now 539 cases a day, a decline of more than 75% since early January, and a drop of 80% in related deaths.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "We have made progress both in suppressing the virus and in vaccination, and therefore the changes I previously indicated will go ahead on April 2 and 5.

"The stay at home rule is being replaced by a requirement to stay local - while Covid levels remain high in some areas, and while a lot of people remain unvaccinated, we do not want the virus to spread from areas with relatively high prevalence to areas with low rates of infection. That’s why the current travel restrictions, which prevent non-essential travel outside your local authority area, are really important.

"It will be easier to relax more restrictions in the future if case numbers remain under control, so when things open up slightly this weekend please continue to stick to the rules, and follow the advice and the instructions given by store staff to keep you and the other customers safe.

"Stay at home – for now - protect the NHS, and follow the FACTS advice when you are out and about to help save lives."

More from North East Scotland News