Nicola Sturgeon will announce this afternoon whether Scotland will lift its coronavirus restrictions next week.

If the Scottish first minister decides the easing will go ahead, then the country will move beyond the current Level 0 rules on Monday 9 August.

The last time rules changed was 19 July, when the number of people who could gather was increased and hospitality opening hours were extended.

If agreed, the changes in August could mean sports and concert venues being allowed to hold capacity crowds for the first time in nearly 18 months.

Ms Sturgeon has previously said, however, that face masks will be mandatory in shops and on public transport for “some time to come”.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said isolation rules should be eased for those who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

He added: “We should move to a test-first system that lets people get on with their lives safely.

More on Covid-19

“Scotland’s economic recovery hinges on the SNP government moving beyond COVID restrictions – we must seize this opportunity to start rebuilding from the damage of COVID now and not delay any longer.”

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, said: “We need to ensure that people are kept safe and that businesses are helped to restart the economy.

“Perhaps most importantly, we urgently need a plan for our NHS and care systems to ensure that workers feel supported, services are invested in and the backlog of appointments is cleared.

“We have to learn to live with the virus, but to do so in such a way that the people of Scotland, our NHS and our economy are supported and protected.”

On Monday, Ms Sturgeon invited UK PM Boris Johnson to her official Edinburgh residence, Bute House, during his visit to Scotland this week.

She said she wanted to discuss COVID recovery plans, adding that it would be their “first opportunity to meet in person for a while”.

Ms Sturgeon acknowledged the two leaders “differ politically”, but said the Scottish and UK governments “must work together where we can”.

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