FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced some changes to lockdown easing focused on improving mental health and wellbeing.

People living in Scotland will be allowed to travel outside of their local authority area for outdoor socialising from Friday, while the number of people allowed to meet outdoors will increase from four people from two households to six people from six households.

Speaking at a coronavirus briefing, Sturgeon said there had been 221 new Covid-19 cases confirmed over the last 24 hours, accounting for 1.6% of the total number of tests carried out.

There are 133 people in hospital, down 21 on the previous day, and 20 people in intensive care, a decrease of one.

There have been three deaths reported, taking the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test to 7633.

A total of 2,682,706 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, an increase of 13,983 on the previous day, while 14,952 people received their second dose yesterday. Some 605,126 people have now received their second doses.

The First Minister gave an overview of the "encouraging" data, which she said would allow Scotland to change its lockdown easing timetable slightly. 

She is "extremely confident" that mainland Scotland will be able to move to level 3 from April 26, allowing shops and outdoor hospitality to open. Indoor hospitality will be able to open with some restrictions. 

The First Minister also announced that, while Scotland’s islands would be able to move to Level 2, the decision has been made to align them with the rest of the country to stop the need for travel restrictions to the islands.

She expects Scotland to move to level 2 on May 17, before gradually moving towards level 0 towards the end of June. 

Level 0 still contains some restrictions, she said, and ministers are "optimistic" about those easing off later in the summer.

From April 26, the First Minister is also confident that Border restrictions between England and Scotland can be eased.