THE Scottish Government expects to lift its nationwide “stay at home” order on April 2, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The public health message will be replaced with instructions to “stay local”, with travel restrictions based on local authority areas remaining in place for at least three weeks.

People will continue to be able to meet up outdoors, including in private gardens, in groups of no more than four from two households Setting out new lockdown easing plans in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said further restrictions will be eased on April 5 if sufficient progress is made in suppressing the virus.

This will include the resumption of contact sports for 12 to 17-year-olds.

More students will be allowed to return to on-campus learning. Colleges will prioritise those whose return is essential. That includes those taking qualifications in construction, engineering, hairdressing, beauty and related courses.

The phased re-opening of non-essential retail will also begin on April 5. Click and collect retail services and garden centres will be permitted to reopen from that date, along with homeware stores, and car showrooms and forecourts.

Finally, hairdressers and barbers will be able to open their doors for appointments.

Sturgeon said: “These changes will, I hope, make a real difference. However, given the state of the virus and extent of vaccination, what I have just set out is the maximum we consider possible at that stage.”

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More substantial changes have been penciled in for April 26. This will include the resumption of outdoor hospitality for cafes, restaurants and bars for groups of up to six from three households, including alcohol service.

Some "limited" indoor hospitality might be possible – but without alcohol and groups of four from two households.

Sturgeon told MSPs that the vaccination programme will have reached those most at risk of dying from Covd-19, which "will give us confidence to ease restrictions much more significantly from April 26".

On the same date, travel restrictions across the country will be dropped.

The First Minister said: "We hope that restrictions on journeys between Scotland and other parts of the UK and the wider common travel area can also be lifted, if not on April 26, then as soon as possible thereafter."

Attendance at funerals, weddings and associated events will also increase to a maximum of 50 from the same date.

Looking further ahead, Sturgeon announced Scotland is expected to move from Level 3 to Level 2 on May 17.

The First Minister told MSPs that while changes at the end of April will need to be monitored, indoor hospitality will return to a greater degree of normality with alcohol able to be served indoors.

She said: "The precise detail of any continued restrictions will depend on an assessment of the situation closer to the time.

"However, we will be aiming for us as much normality as possible."

Indoor socialising is also expected to return on May 17, the First Minister said, with plans announced to allow four people from two households to meet, while there will also be a further relaxation on outdoor mixing.