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Nicola Sturgeon to ease restrictions on outdoor meetings: When is the announcement and how can you watch?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Covid restrictions in Scotland will be slightly eased today with Nicola Sturgeon updating MSPs this afternoon.

It expected that she will announce plans to let more people meet outside to socialise.

Currently, only two people from two households can meet up outdoors but this could be increased to four people from two households today.

This relaxation was originally planned for March 15 but has been brought forward due to the progress being made in suppressing Covid in the country.

Another easing of rules could lead to more young people being allowed to participate in non-contact sports.

Ms Sturgeon will be reviewing the latest data and advice with her cabinet ministers this morning before announcing their decisions this afternoon.

How can I watch this?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The first minister will update MSPs on any changes at Holyrood at about 2.15pm.

She will then take questions from MSPs.

Her statement will be broadcast on BBC Scotland and on Scottish Parliament TV.

You can also keep track of the event on our dedicated liveblog.

Why are restrictions being eased?

The success of the vaccine programme is helping Scotland open up quickly.

On Friday, Ms Sturgeon was positive about how well Scotland was doing suppressing the virus.

She said that “good progress” with the vaccination programme and the falling number of infections could mean that “greater normality is firmly on the horizon.”

During the briefing, she said was “hopeful” the Scottish Government may be able to make some “relatively minor, but I think important, changes in our ability to meet outdoors and also how young people are able to interact with their friends outdoors.”

No other big changes are expected to the Covid restrictions, with the stay at home guidance expected to remain in place until next month.

Scotland is due to move back into a levels system at the end of April.

What is the opposition saying?

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs welcomed the proposed changes but urged the government to quicken up other aspects of the Covid restrictions.

Miles Briggs

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, he said: “I think this is welcome, many people who’ve not been able to see more than one person outside over this time will be pleased that they can see more friends, which is something we have been calling for.

“I’m pleased to see this, but we also need to see things move faster as well, that’s why we’ve been putting forward firstly that schools should return earlier and I welcome the fact ministers have taken that on-board as well.

“But also we need to look at wellbeing and health issues now, which is why we are calling for gyms to be opened up earlier than is planned.

“Currently it is suggested that they open on April 26, but we’d like to see them open on April 5 when people can actually leave their homes.”

Scottish Labour education spokesman Michael Marra also supported the plans to ease restrictions.

Michael Marra

He said: “We can absolutely support more people meeting up if the data supports that, if the scientific evidence says it safe and that we keep progressing and continuing on the route out of lockdown.

“I agree that we need a proper plan for exiting that people can look at and get some hope for their families, businesses and communities.

“We need more detail and I think it’s widely-held knowledge that the first minister got the tone of this wrong in her last announcement.

“She needs to give people a plan so that they can have an idea of where their life is going.

“There’s a big mental health aspect in this here as well so we can understand we can have more normality in our lives and we can plan for our kids and elderly relatives.”