Scotland will remove most of its remaining coronavirus restrictions from Monday and end the use of its levels system, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister told MSPs, in a virtual sitting of the Scottish Parliament, the country could move beyond Level 0 - the lowest level of a five tier system of restrictions in Scotland - due to the "steady decline in cases" and "the success of vaccination".
She said most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions - including on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings - would be lifted, allowing large-scale events to take place.
Masks, however, would remain legally mandated in public places “for some time to come."
Ms Sturgeon also warned that the pandemic was not over.
"This change is significant and hard-earned. The sacrifices everyone has made over the past year-and-a-half can never be overstated.
"However, while this move will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear that it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid
"Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is premature.
"The harm the virus can do, including through the impact of long Covid
, should not be underestimated. And its ability to mutate may yet pose us real challenges.
"So even as we make this move today, care and caution will still be required, and that is why I want to focus now on the protections and guidance that will remain in place after August 9."
Those measures include Test and Protect, while homeworking will also still be advised by the Scottish Government.
She said: “I know most businesses are not planning a wholesale return to the office, while recognising that a return for some staff will be beneficial to them and their employers. It is vital that this gradual approach continues.
“We will also encourage employers to consider for the longer term, as the Scottish Government is doing, a hybrid model of home and office working - which may, of course, have benefits beyond the need to control a virus.”