Nicola Sturgeon has stated that coronavirus restritions will remain in place for an additional 3 weeks, delaying Scotland’s timetabled date for the country to move into Level 0 restrictions to July 19.
She also announced that the "major" legal limits, such as social distancing requirements, should be expected to last until August 9 – a light at the end of a very long tunnel.
The Scottish First Minister said that this extension of lockdown measures gives more time for people to receive a second dose of the vaccine in order provide higher protection against the Delta variant.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government needed to "buy ourselves sufficient time" to allow the vaccination programme to continue its work.
She had previously said that "Given the current situation – and the need to get more people fully vaccinated before we ease up further – it is reasonable to indicate now that I think it unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from June 28."
The announcement comes as Scotland records its highest daily figure of case rates since January 8 2021.
The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced a three week delay for easing restrictions
Credit: Russell Cheyne/PA
Much of the north and south of Scotland moved into Level 1 restrictions on June 5, in line with the timetabled easing of restrictions.
However, more than half of the Scottish population will be in lockdown "limbo" from June 7, after 14 councils in the central belt of the country were placed into in Level 2, as they do not have a low enough Covid rate to meet her threshold for reducing restrictions.
These include Glasgow, Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the three Ayrshire areas, North and South Lanarkshire and Clackmannanshire and Stirling.
For those councils that remain in Level 2 restrictions, a limited number of people can meet indoors and and indoor hospitality can reopen, alongside all holiday accommodation such as hotels, self-catering accommodation and campsites.
The First Minister said while the vaccination programme is having an effect on the level of serious illness from the virus, not enough people are fully protected.
"However – and this is why I have described our current situation as a transition – although we are vaccinating as quickly as possible, there is still a sizeable proportion of the population not yet fully vaccinated," she said.
"And full vaccination is vital. Protection against the Delta variant after one dose is not negligible – but it is not substantial either. It is after two doses that the protection is much stronger."
What are the current rules in Scotland?
Most of Scotland moved to Level 2 of lockdown restrictions on May 17, allowing for six people from three households to meet indoors, and eight people from eight households to meet outdoors.
Children under the age of 12 do not count towards this number of people meeting outside, but they do when gathering inside.
Pubs and restaurants can also remain open indoors until 10:30 pm in Level 2 areas, with alcohol allowed to be served indoors.
Customers in the Waverley, Edinburgh, enjoy a drink inside the bar. Alcohol can now be served inside pubs and restaurants, which are allowed to stay open until 22.30, as most of Scotland moved to Level 2 restrictions on May 17 to ease out of lockdown.
Credit: Jane Barlow/PA
For areas that have moved into Level 1, up to 6 people from 3 households can stay overnight in a home, and up to 8 people from 3 households in an indoor public place like a café, pub or restaurant, which can remain open later.
Additionally, up to 12 people from 12 households outdoors in a private garden or a public place.
Funerals and weddings – including post-funeral events and receptions – are now allowed to take place with up to 50 people and alcohol permitted.
Additionally, people across the UK can now travel between England, Scotland and Wales as border restrictions are eased.
University and college students have returned for in-person teaching and outdoor contact sports for 12- 17-year-olds have resumed. Primary students returned to the classroom full-time on March 15, with those in secondary having a mix of online and face-to-face lessons.
Outdoor non-contact sport and organised group exercise can take place for all adults, in groups of up to 15 people.
How many vaccinations have taken place in Scotland?
As of June 15, 3,531,461 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination, while 2,470,181 have received their second dose since the roll-out began on January 16.
However, the Scottish Government said that Public Health Scotland experienced IT issues, which had an impact on the extraction of vaccination data on June 15.
It said Tuesday’s figures may be an underestimate, and any missing data will be reported in tomorrow’s figures.
The Scottish government is now inviting people aged 18-29-year-old to register for a jab with every adult expected to have received an invitation by the end of next week. This is ahead of schedule, after the government set the initial aim of having all adults receiving a first dose of the vaccine by the end of July.
Ms Sturgeon stated on June 15 that guidance is expected in the coming weeks from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) on the possibility of booster jabs to be administered in autumn.
The First Minister also said that moves were being made to being made to vaccinate 12 to 17-year-olds, in case the JCVI recommend it as a course of action.
How many people have been vaccinated?
Can I travel to Scotland?
Travel to and from England is now allowed.
Self-catering accommodation has also been allowed to reopen as of April 26.
The easing of lockdown measures in both England and Scotland on May 17 means that all accommodation, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs can re-open. Domestic overnight stays are also permitted for groups of up to six people or two households.
Additionally, travel to some countries without a hotel quarantine upon return is now allowed.
Under the system similar to that set out by the government in Westminster, countries will be classified as green, amber and red and a review would take place every four weeks.
Managed isolation will still be needed for countries on the "red list", while a 10-day period of self-isolation with two PCR tests will be needed for amber list countries and those arriving from green list countries will be required to take a test when they arrive, but will not need to self-isolate if they do not have the virus.
Twelve countries and territories appear on the "green" list from today, May 17, including Iceland, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand and Australia.
"This decision means that, as of now, we have a consistent four nations position on international travel – I think that’s positive," Ms Sturgeon said.
"It has been made possible because the decisions the UK Government has arrived at are appropriately cautious – I hope this continues to be the case but I need to stress that the Scottish Government will continue to take the decision we consider to be right for Scotland.
"We will not sign up to decisions that will put our progress at risk."
Read more: Travel advice for holidays to Scotland