John Swinney has voiced hope that Scotland will ultimately be able to move away from lockdowns as a way of responding to rising coronavirus cases.
The Deputy First Minister said he hopes future outbreaks can be dealt with through the Test and Protect system.
MSPs debated the strategy around Covid-19 in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
Mr Swinney, who is also the Covid Recovery Secretary, said the first cross-party steering group on coronavirus recovery has already met and agreed its core priorities.
He said: “I’m hopeful that over time we may be able to move away from the use of lockdowns and severe restrictions on our freedoms to deal with increasing cases.
“And instead to take a more targeted approach, using our high-performing Test and Protect system, enhanced surveillance and local outbreak management to contain and control increasingly sporadic outbreaks.”
He said people will still need to “do their part” by wearing face coverings, physically distancing and getting tested even if they do not have symptoms.
High numbers of cases in parts of Glasgow shows Scotland is not yet free of the virus, he said, while the Indian (April-02) variant shows “we must continue to be on our guard”.
Speaking for the Scottish Conservatives, Murdo Fraser said Covid recovery should be the “unrelenting focus” for the next five years.
He said the impact of Covid-19 had been “devastating” in terms of lives lost and the wider impact on the NHS.
Mr Fraser said: “There is also a huge and largely hidden story about the social impacts of Covid-19 restrictions.
“A growth in loneliness and isolation, a huge negative impact on mental health, the effects of which we are not likely to fully understand for some years to come.”
He said the Government should have a strategy of suppression rather than elimination of the virus, saying: “Just as we’ve had to learn to live with seasonal flu outbreaks, we’re going to have to learn to live with Covid in the future.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar stressed that coronavirus continues to be a “huge challenge” for the country, saying dealing with the pandemic must be “the defining mission of this Parliament”.
But with Glasgow now Scotland’s Covid hotspot and the only part of the country still under Level 3 restrictions, Mr Sarwar warned there is a “real risk” of trust between the public and politicians breaking down.
He said: “I think there is a real risk that that level of communication and public trust and confidence is at risk of breaking in terms of what is happening in the city of Glasgow.
“We need to see urgent action that gives a proper route map, an exit plan, for the city of Glasgow.”
He argued that rather than having “perpetual lockdowns”, there should instead be clear criteria set out on when an area would face further restrictions, with “proper channels of communication” in place between the Government and businesses in such areas.
Scottish Green health spokeswoman Gillian Mackay stressed the need to “build back stronger and better services” for both patients and NHS staff after the pandemic.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton called on ministers to start the public inquiry into the handling of pandemic “without delay”.
He said: “That inquiry should not be about politics but about catharsis, about healing and learning from the remnants of this virus for any future pandemic that might visit upon our shores.”