Tourism and hospitality businesses in Scotland have been told they may be able to reopen on July 15.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing revealed the target date in a statement at Holyrood.
Tourism firms have been among the hardest hit by the lockdown, and fears have been raised that it could take several years for the vital sector to recover.
Announcing the potential lifting of restrictions, Mr Ewing said: “As things stand just now our hope is that we would be able to give the go-ahead to a reopening of the sector at the July 9 review.
“Assuming this does prove possible, some time would then be required for inter-connecting services, such as transport, to be prepared.
“On that basis, and on the clear understanding with the industry that nothing can be absolutely guaranteed at this stage, and that we may need to change this date if the evidence requires it, we would encourage tourism and hospitality businesses to prepare, within appropriate safety guidelines, for reopening on July 15.”
Mr Ewing also revealed that a taskforce would be established to draw up a plan for the revival of the tourism industry.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), the representative body for tourism businesses in Scotland, welcomed the announcement as a “hugely positive milestone in our road to recovery”.
“The STA has pushed hard for an indicative date to be given to allow accommodation providers, visitor attractions, pubs and restaurants to plan effectively, accept bookings, make arrangements for return of their staff from furlough, conduct training and, most importantly, ensure that all safety protocols are in place to provide their employees and the public the confidence and reassurance they need to feel safe to return.”
“We will remain hopeful that an earlier date for reopening may be given for certain sectors which are more easily placed to do so safely by their nature – for example, self-catering, caravan and camping parks – and would ask that continued consideration is given to this as we move further out of lockdown.
“Today’s announcement is what the industry has been asking for and we are hugely appreciative of the efforts of the cabinet secretary in engaging with all of our sectors to gain a thorough understanding of not only the issues and challenges but the opportunities for our sector in the months ahead.”