Nicola Sturgeon is “very hopeful and optimistic” she will be able to announce an easing of some coronavirus lockdown measures later this week.
The First Minister said the current data suggested that Scotland will be able to move into phase one of lifting the restrictions and return “to a greater degree of normality”.
With the Scottish Government legally required to review the guidelines on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon is expected to announce certain outdoor activities can resume, in addition to being able to meet people from other households.
While Ms Sturgeon stressed that any lockdown easing depends on continuing to control the spread of the virus, she said: “From the perspective I have right now, on Monday morning of this week, yes I am very hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to move to phase one.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she added: “The data rate now would suggest that is the case, but of course I’ve got to formally assess that on Thursday.
“That will then allow us to set out the steps that we will take to ease restrictions, which ones we will be able to ease and the order in which we will do that.
“I think that will be an important step forward. It will be a cautious step forward because we have to keep the virus under control, but it will be the first step on that road, hopefully back to a greater degree of normality.”
Asked about the Government’s progress towards its target of 2,000 contact tracers by June for its test, trace and isolate strategy, she revealed that 660 are currently employed and 750 were “in process”, while approximately 20,000 people applied.
“I don’t think we will need all 2,000 incidentally in the first stages of this,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“The further we suppress the virus, the fewer people that are going to get infected.
“Therefore the fewer people that will have symptoms that will need to be tested with their contacts being traced.
“But the important thing is we have the ability to flex that because we may see the prevalence of the virus and the incidence of new cases increase at particular points.”