NICOLA Sturgeon is set to announce a review of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Scotland.

The First Minister will update the Scottish Parliament on any changes to the current measures.

She is expected to make her speech shortly after 2pm this afternoon. See details on how to watch it at the bottom of this article. 

Declining Coivd-19 cases number and hospital admissions have prompted Sturgeon to welcome “rays of sunshine” in recent weeks.

More than 1.2 million Scots have been given their first jag, with the Government having met its target to offer vaccines to all over-70s and those who are clinically vulnerable.

READ MORE: Scotland has reached milestone vaccine target, Nicola Sturgeon announces

What restrictions are in place at the moment?

Schools and businesses – including restaurants, bars and gyms have been closed across mainland Scotland since January 4, when Scotland's second lockdown was announced.

Meanwhile, Scots have been restricted to leaving the house for essential purposes only, such as going to the supermarket, exercise or caring for a vulnerable person.

These restrictions were put in place until at least the end of February, with the last lockdown review taking place on February 2.

What could change?

School restrictions could be among those to change.

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At the last review, Sturgeon said that school pupils – who have been learning remotely – would start to make a phased return from February 22, provided it was deemed safe enough to do so.

A phased return would see Primary 1-3 children back in school five days a week and some senior pupils allowed to attend class for key coursework.

However, there is still uncertainty over the feasibility of a return to school for pupils.

Speaking at the briefing on Friday, Jeane Freeman said the approach would be "cautious".

The Health Secretary commented: “The Cabinet will meet at the start of the week and review all the information, take advice from colleagues like [national clinical director] Jason Leitch and the chief medical officer and make a final decision next week on whether that planned limited reopening of education can still go ahead."

Leitch added that progress on reducing the spread of the virus has been hampered by the new varaint.

The National: National clinical director Jason Leitch National clinical director Jason Leitch

He said: “The trajectory is still a really difficult question. It is slow – it is still decelerating – but barely. We have stalled, not completely, but the curve is flatter than we would have hoped and that is all down to the new variant.

“I and my colleagues – with the modellers, with the statisticians, with the public health leaders – will give advice to the First Minister, the Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet and they will decide on Monday whether schools should open, even in this limited way."

Speaking ahead of the review, the First Minister said she is “very keen” to see P1 to P3 pupils as well as a limited number of older pupils return to the classroom.

What about other restrictions?

Sturgeon has said that any moves to get some pupils back to school should not be seen as a sign that wider restrictions would ease soon.

Speaking at the last review, the First Minister suggested that other measures could be eased in early March.

She said: “If our progress continues, then I am cautiously – and I stress cautiously – optimistic that, as more and more people get vaccinated, and with the protection of some of the additional measures that I will set out shortly, we may be able to begin looking towards a careful and gradual easing around the start of March. I will give an update on that in two weeks’ time.”

However, she explained yesterday: “We are not imminently about to signal the reopening of pubs and restaurants. Obviously we want everything back to normal as quickly as possible but I’m not going to raise expectations that that is coming in the immediate timeframe.”

Professor Linda Bauld of the University of Edinburgh said she is hopeful other businesses such as bars and restaurants will be able to gradually reopen over the coming months.

She told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “I’m really hopeful that they will be, I certainly think when the weather gets better we’ll be able to access that outdoors and then indoors with mitigation if we continue to make progress. It’s been really, really tough for that sector.

"The important thing is when we do open up, we don’t want to have to close down again and that’s why the vaccines are going to be absolutely essential."

She warned that people will likely continue to have to wear face coverings for the rest of the year and in future winters.

“We’re going to have some public health measures, face coverings, distancing and keeping our eye on not importing variants from overseas, for some time to come.”

Bauld said she expects the country will return to the levels framework of restrictions as it reopens in stages.

She explained that framework is based on a range of indicators and while progress is being made, the number of people in hospital needs to go down before things can change.

She said: “ICU and hospital numbers need to go down more and also the modelling of capacity needs to be in the right place, but I really do think we’re going to be hearing good news quite soon and people should be hopeful that we’re not going to be stuck in this situation indefinitely.”

How can I watch the announcement?

The First Minister’s address will be broadcast live on the Scottish Parliament TV channel, BBC Scotland, and Facebook.

You can also follow it on The National’s coronavirus blog.