The 11 council areas in Scotland which currently have the toughest Level 4 coronavirus restrictions will move down one level from Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The changes will allow non-essential retail and hospitality, such as cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers, to reopen two weeks ahead of Christmas.
The areas being placed in Level 3 are East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, and West Lothian.
Non-essential shops there will be able to reopen from 6am on Friday. The rest of the changes will come into affect from 6pm that day.
Hospitality businesses in Level 3 must close their doors by 6pm, meaning the newly-affected areas will have to wait until Saturday to welcome back customers for food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Meanwhile Inverclyde, Falkirk, and Angus will move from Level 3 to Level 2, and Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders will move from Level 2 to Level 1.
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Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said she had considered moving Edinburgh from Level 3 to Level 2 but the closeness to the Christmas period had quashed that decision.
However, the position will be reassessed next week.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will remain in Level 2, with coronavirus cases having fallen in the past week.
Ms Sturgeon said: “In reaching decisions today, we have had to consider the potential overall impact of moving to a lower level of restrictions at the same time as the Christmas period begins in earnest.
“That has led us to a proportionate but still cautious set of conclusions.”
As people have the Pfizer/BioNTech jab for the first time today outside clinical trials, Ms Sturgeon said the vaccination programme presents the “beginning of the end” of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.
She said: “Today – the day when the first people have been vaccinated against COVID – is a day of optimism for all of us.
“But it marks, we hope, the beginning of the end of the pandemic. The end is not quite with us yet.
“So all of us must continue to think about how we keep ourselves and each other safe in the meantime.”