Scots who are shielding will no longer need to from August 1, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The First Minister also revealed some further easing on restrictions for the category from Friday, including enabling them to meet more people both indoors and outdoors.
As the country recorded no Covid-19 deaths for the seventh day in a row – with only one in the past 15 days – she said “incredible progress” had been made.
Addressing those who have been shielding throughout lockdown due to an underlying health condition, she said it has been “incredibly difficult” with the risk of “very real” damage being done to their mental health.
From Friday, they will be able to meet up to eight people from two different households indoors, as well as four different households outdoors.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Thursday coronavirus briefing, Sturgeon said shielding will be “paused” from August 1 after receiving scientific advice backing the move.
People who are shielding should from August 1 follow the guidance for those who are at higher risk from the virus, such as the elderly.
These include keeping active, keeping hands clean and keeping contacts as low as possible.
Children who are shielding will be able to go back to school and adults will be able to return to work if it is deemed safe to do so.
Employers will have to ensure it is safe for a shielding person to return to work, although it remains Scottish Government guidance that working from home should be the default position for everyone if possible.
The First Minister sent a “sincere and heartfelt” thanks to those who are shielding.
She added: “That has been incredibly tough and it’s easy for me to say that but the reality is I actually find it hard to fully imagine just how difficult it has been.
“Shielding and shielding people demonstrate, perhaps more powerfully than anything does, just how all of us are dependent right now on each other’s actions.
“The reason that we can pause shielding, hopefully at the end of next week, is because all of us have stuck to the guidance so far – and all of us need to continue to do that in order that we continue collectively to protect those at risk.”
The First Minister announced 16 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Scotland in the past day – 0.4% of those tested – taking the total to 18,500.
A total of 287 people are in hospital with Covid-19, eight fewer than the day before.
Of those, just two Scots are being treated in intensive care, a decrease of one.