Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “unlikely” Scotland will move to Level 0 on June 28 following a spike in case numbers.
However, while plans to move the entire country to Level 0 may be put on hold as a result of the upcoming three-week review, no areas in Scotland will change Level at present.
Citing a need to buy “more time” for the vaccine to beat the virus follows a similar announcement made by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday evening.
He said that his June 21 “freedom” date for England would need to be reviewed in order to save lives and keep pressure off the NHS.
Mr Johnson has shifted exit plans in England to July 19, hoping that the vaccination effort will have caught up to the increasing number of cases prompted by the new variant.
Vaccination helping to change the game.
While plans to restrictions have paused, the First Minister has said the aim is to achieve more normality over the course of the summer.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We do still hope that vaccination will allow us to move past Level 0 and back to a much greater degree of normality.
“We will also publish our review of physical distancing, given the uncertainty of the current situation surrounding, in particular, the greater transmissibility of the Delta variant we have taken a bit longer to consider this than we had originally planned.
“In summary next week we will in all probability, although this has to be confirmed after our next review, pause the further easing of restrictions while we press ahead as fast as possible to press ahead with vaccination.
“And, in particular with double doses of vaccination, we will also look ahead in more detail to what is possible later in the summer.”
No Level changes across the country
Even with the rise in case rates and hospital numbers, no local authorities within the country have been placed under additional restrictions.
Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and some of the smaller islands have been at level zero since June, while the rest of Scotland is currently in either level one or two.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I know the current situation is difficult and we all want to see the back of all restrictions as soon as possible.
“While this set back is not easy and is not welcome for anyone, it is worth remembering that we are living under far fewer restrictions now than was a few weeks ago.
“The current situation is not what any of us want, but equally the current situation is not lockdown which was experienced during earlier stages of the pandemic.”
Growing concerns surrounding Delta variant
On Monday, one of Ms Sturgeon’s scientific advisers, professor Stephen Reicher, said halting the easing of restrictions across Scotland as well would “make good sense”.
He said: “In a situation where things are getting worse we don’t know how much worse they’re going to get. We don’t know how many people are going to get seriously ill.
“There’s still a lot of damage that can be done, therefore it makes good sense to pause.”
Researchers think the Delta variant, first identified in India, is associated with twice the risk of hospital admission compared with the earlier Kent variant.
New data, published on Monday, shows two vaccine doses provide strong protection but at a lower level.
On Sunday, Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf also said the country is in the early days of a “potential third wave” of infections.
He added the India variant is a “bump in the road” and admitted it is “right to question” the proposed June 28 country-wide move to Level 0.