Changes came into force today across Scotland allowing six people from six households to meet up, however, they have been met with a sense of caution by residents in the north.
Scots are now free to travel into other local authorities for socialising, recreation and exercise with some taking the opportunity to visit family and friends who they have been separated from since Christmas.
In Inverness, small groups gathered in the sunshine this afternoon to meet with friends, however, no large groups were present.
Picnics and coffee in the sunshine
Instead, friends took the opportunity to meet for a coffee and a picnic in smaller groups.
Friends Nicole Agnew and Emily Thomson met in Bught Park with Miss Thomson’s one-year-old daughter Thea.
Miss Agnew said: “I don’t live with many people so it is nice for me to get out and see other people again to catch up.
“We haven’t caught up in person since last year.
“We just wanted to see each other and we are not really that bothered about seeing lots of people just yet. We are just taking it slow for just now.
“The weather helps for sure.”
Miss Thomson said she was relieved for her daughter to be able to see others as well.
She said: “It is a lot better than having to be by myself all day.
“It’s good for Thea to be able to socialise too. Especially being so wee she hasn’t got to meet as many people as she probably would.
“When lockdown started she was only nine months so when she got onto her feet more there wasn’t much for her to do, so even now she is enjoying it more.
“Hopefully soon I can meet up with other parents in the next few weeks.”
Miss Agnew added that she is looking forward to meeting up with family members thanks to the latest easing of restrictions.
She said: “There are quite a lot of us and we are all from so many households and we haven’t all got together at once so we are looking forward to meeting up.
“Hopefully the weather is nicer and we can have a barbeque.”
‘Something I have been looking forward to’
Angela MacDonald was excited to meet up with her friend Mark Finch for the first time in weeks.
She said: “It’s a great day for it. It is something I have been looking forward to meeting up with friends so that’s what we are doing.
“Although we can have six, we are just going to take things slowly for now.”
Mr Finch, from Elgin, said he plans on meeting up with other friends in the coming weeks.
He said: “I have friends I have not seen for months and months on end, some elderly friends too, so I am looking forward to seeing them.
“I have not made plans to see them yet but I will be.
“But for now we are just going to take things as they come.”
Families flock to Loch Morlich
Beauty spots like Loch Morlich were busy as families sought to take in the best of the sunshine.
Dog walkers and paddleboarders descended on the area, however, most kept themselves to themselves.
The Allen family were more than happy to pose for a photo after some ended up in the water to cool off.
‘We’ll be here til midnight’
Monday’s announcement was met with delight from friend groups across the country, who were able to gather in the same place for the first time in almost five months.
Several of them had chosen a sunny but chilly Duthie Park in Aberdeen for their reunion.
Ruth Legdon, Lynne Soulsby and Fiona Firth had brought a couple of picnic chairs to allow them to socially distance comfortably.
All retired teachers from Ferryhill School, they had been anticipating their get-together for a while.
Lynne said: “We last met up on my birthday, which is December 22, and we’ve only talked using WhatsApp since then.”
The announcement on Monday came as a pleasant surprise for them all.
Fiona said: “We had an afternoon tea booked for a couple of weeks’ time when places were opening up, but then we realised we could all meet up today!”
Lynne added: “We’ll be here till midnight, chatting to each other.”
The three friends all expressed their hope that the unscheduled relaxation signals what Ruth called “the start of the new norm”.
‘Finally some light at the end of the tunnel’
Similar sentiments came from a group of four young friends who were enjoying a picnic by the park’s bandstand.
Sarah Wood, 23, Rebecca Brewer, 23, Ivy Gray, 20, and Michael McConnach, 24, were also meeting up for the first time since December.
Lifeguard Ivy said: “It’s good, it feels like there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s been a long time since we were able to meet up, there’s been a lot of Zoom calls.”
Student Sarah added: “It’s really windy, but we’ve got to push through because this is it, finally!”
The announcement of a relaxation was particularly welcomed by the students, who have been denied social contact for a significant chunk of their final years at university.
Rebecca said: “It was nice to hear, especially because we’re graduating as well and a lot of the last year has been online.”
Michael, a student nurse, said: “I had graduation yesterday and it was over Zoom.
“I’m hoping to just meet people in the park and make sure we keep in touch.”