Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that lockdown restrictions in Scotland may be eased sooner than originally planned.
The First Minister said a decline in new coronavirus cases means it might be possible to ‘accelerate' the relaxing of level four rules, under which hospitality is closed.
When she set out an exit plan last month, Sturgeon said the 'stay at home' message could be lifted on 5 April with a ‘substantial reopening' of the economy beginning 26 April.
Speaking yesterday, she said: "Next week, I hope to confirm to Parliament the other changes to the level four restrictions that will take effect from the 15 March.
"The week after, I am scheduled to set out a firmer timetable for the period after 26 April."
She added: "Between now and then – and in light of the positive data that I will report on today – we will be considering if it might be possible to accelerate the exit from lockdown in any way, consistent of course with the care and caution that we know continues to be necessary."
Under the original timetable it was hoped level four areas would move to level three at the end of April, which would mean hospitality can open but with a 6pm curfew and a ban on serving alcohol. Hotels in level three can take bookings from local visitors or for work-related use.
Scottish hospitality groups have called for more clarity on reopening dates and said it is vital financial support remains in place.
Sturgeon added: "I have always said if we can go further and faster, then we will not hesitate to do so.
"All of us want to move on as quickly as possible – and, as a priority, to see friends and family again. This will very much be the focus of our considerations over the next few weeks and I hope the day for that is not too far away."