People in Scotland will be allowed to exercise more than once a day after Nicola Sturgeon announced a cap on physical activity has been scrapped.
The first minister confirmed the lifting of restrictions on daily exercise will take effect from Monday but said no other changes to lockdown measures in Scotland would be made for the time being because the risk remains too high.
Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said the situation is “fragile” and people should still stay close to home while maintaining a two-metre distance from anyone not part of their household.
The easing will not apply to those who have symptoms, are living with someone who is showing symptoms or those who are in the shielding group. It should also not be used to gather in groups or for “sunbathing, picnics or barbecues”.
“The core principles of lockdown in Scotland remain the same, people should stay at home to help save lives and protect the NHS,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“We do not underestimate how difficult these measures are, particularly for those living alone, or living in smaller accommodation with children or without access to a garden or outdoor home space.”
Ms Sturgeon said the hard work of people across Scotland to follow the guidance and stay home had allowed ministers to sign-off on the change.
However, she cautioned being allowed to exercise more than once a day “is definitely not a licence to start meeting up in groups at the park or at the beach”.
Officials will look to see whether further changes can be made to the lockdown guidance, including increasing the number of activities people can undertake outside.
It is expected further updates could be made next weekend but Ms Sturgeon said she does not expect schools in Scotland to return as early as June, as has been reported in England.
Before the briefing, official figures showed a total of 1,857 patients in Scotland have died following a laboratory-confirmed case of Covid-19, with 13,486 people testing positive for the virus overall – up by 181 from 13,305 the day before.
There were 82 people in intensive care with coronavirus or associated symptoms.
Ms Sturgeon also used the session to address tensions between the UK Government and the devolved administrations over a change in messaging from Westminster, which she described as “vague” and “imprecise”.
The first minister said she had only learned of a shift away from the UK-wide slogan of ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ to ‘stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ from newspaper reports on Sunday, and this had not been discussed with her team.
She has asked the UK Government not to use the messaging in Scotland and admitted she does not know what the ‘stay alert’ slogan actually means.
“For Scotland right now, given the fragility of the progress we’ve made, given the critical point that we are at, it would be catastrophic for me to drop the stay at home message, which is why I’m not prepared to do it,” she said.
Ms Sturgeon stressed “real progress” had been made in recent weeks but warned against easing lockdown measures too early or sending out “mixed messages” to the public about what actions they should take.
“Let me be very blunt about the consequences if we were to do that,” she said.
“People will die unnecessarily and instead of being able to loosen restrictions, hopefully in the near future, we will be faced instead with having to tighten them. We must not take that risk.”
Ms Sturgeon added that the message in Scotland is not “stay at home if you can” but rather “stay at home full stop”.