AN “emotional” Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Scots can hug loved ones again from Monday, as long as they comply with new coronavirus rules.

The First Minister, confirming her government’s plans to ease lockdown restrictions, spoke to the nation at an Edinburgh news conference.

She said all of mainland Scotland, with the "highly probable exception" of Moray, will move from Level 3 to Level 2 of coronavirus restrictions on Monday, May 17.

Moray is expected to remain in Level 3 following a surge in cases and an increase in hospital admissions.

In the rest of the mainland, six people from three households will be able to meet indoors, the same number can meet in a hospitality venue and eight people from eight houses can meet outdoors.

In those areas, people will be able to hugged loved ones again from Monday – subject to restrictions.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon announces lifting of lockdown restrictions for most of Scotland

Scotland’s islands, meanwhile, will move to level 1 due to successful vaccine rollouts and decreasing case numbers.

This includes the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and all islands in the Highland Council area – with the exception of Skye and for the Inner Hebrides islands in Argyll.

Announcing the new rules on hugging people, Sturgeon said: "I actually feel a wee bit emotional saying this, from Monday, as long as you stay within permitted limits, you can hug your loved ones again.

But the First Minister stressed it remains "vital to be cautious", saying that restrictions will continue to be reviewed in the coming weeks.

Caution should also be used where a vulnerable person is involved, the SNP leader added.