Scotland finally has a route map out of lockdown after the first minister announced indicative dates for easing the current stay at home restrictions.
The outlook is more hopeful than it has been for some time but Nicola Sturgeon cautioned that the timetable would depend on the continued suppression of the virus and the vaccine programme remaining on track.
With the countdown to some form of normality under way BBC Scotland has been looking for answers to our readers’ most-asked questions.
When can someone from Scotland visit England? Margaret, Dumfries
Cross border travel has been banned for non-essential purposes since before Christmas.
But the first minister this week confirmed restrictions on journeys to other parts of the UK will be lifted on 26 April or “as soon as possible thereafter”.
She also told MSPs the position will be kept under review in a bid to reduce the risk of new cases being imported into the country.
If the data allows Scotland will return to a levels system at the end of next month.
This would see all mainland areas move to level three and remove the current restrictions which require people to remain within their own local authority area.
Can beauty salons open at the same date as hairdressers or do they have to wait until 26 April. Will there be restrictions on the types of treatment provided? Rita, Dunfermline
Although hairdressing salons can open from 5 April beauticians and other close-contact services such as mobile hairdressers must wait a further three weeks.
There is no indication yet that particular treatments, such as manicures and waxing, will be restricted.
A Scottish government spokesman said: “We all want to get back to normal as soon as it is safely possible, but as the first minister has set out we must move very carefully to ensure continued suppression of the virus.
“If we open up too much, too quickly then we risk a resurgence of the virus.”
When will workmen be allowed into my house to carry out work? Ken, Edinburgh
Non-essential work in people’s homes will be able to resume from 26 April.
Until now tradespeople have only been allowed access to private dwellings in level four areas if it is essential for the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household, for example a boiler repair.
This guidance was put into law in January when it was announced as one of six new rules.
image captionWedding days could look very different when Covid-19 rules are eased
When will we know how many people we can have at our wedding? Rachel, Glasgow
Under the current level four restrictions weddings are strictly limited to five guests and receptions cannot take place.
The Scottish Wedding Alliance recently said the measures had led to a “crippling year” for the whole industry.
Figures from the National Records of Scotland show weddings in 2020 declined by more than 50% compared with 2019, with 11,986 marriages registered.
But the positive trends in Scotland means the guest limit will be raised to 50 people from 26 April.
Two further review dates are pencilled in for early and late June and both could see the numbers increase further.
image captionThe Great Scottish Run in Glasgow is Scotland’s biggest mass participation sporting event
I am a keen long-distance runner and all road races were cancelled in 2020. Will it be possible for people to race again? Derek, Edinburgh
Plans have yet to be announced for mass participation sporting events although the first minister has said she hopes the summer will bring “an even greater degree of normality”.
This will be too late for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, which was scheduled for May, and is now a virtual event for the second consecutive year.
If the overall picture continues to improve then races such as the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow, which is set for October, could go ahead in some form.
One compromise might be to reduced the numbers taking part.
For example, the Boston Marathon in the US this week announced it was reducing the field for its 125th event from 30,000 to 20,000.
When is shielding being lifted to allow people to return to work? Andrew, Glasgow
Since the start of the pandemic about 180,000 people in Scotland have received a letter advising them that they are on the shielding list.
Government guidelines strongly advise clinically extremely vulnerable people to stay at home at all times, apart from going out to exercise or attend a medical appointment.
But from 26 April people on the shielding list can return to work.
During her daily media briefing on Wednesday the first minister stressed those in this category should not do anything differently ahead of that date, even if they have had one or both doses of the vaccination.
Scotland’s chief medical officer will write this week to everyone on the shielding list to provide more detailed advice.
At the moment we are advised to work from home if we can. When will this change? Stuart, Bellshill
In January the Scottish government strengthened its obligation on employers to allow their staff to work from home whenever possible.
The law already said that people should only be leaving home to go to work if it is work that cannot be done from home.
But as case numbers soared after Christmas statutory guidance was introduced to make clear that employers should support employees to work from home wherever possible.
The first minister this week said it is still “premature” to say when people may be able to go back to working in offices, although the new timetable indicates a “phased return” of some staff may be possible from the end of June.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The advice to people remains, where possible, to work from home.”
Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said that the current measures may be needed until the adult population has been fully vaccinated.
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