The first steps of the Scottish government’s lockdown exit plan were revealed on 16 February, with Nicola Sturgeon announcing that schools will begin a phased return from Monday 22 February.
The first minister confirmed that a “revised strategic framework” for easing coronavirus restrictions was in progress, and this is expected to be revealed on Tuesday 23 February.
So when could pubs, bars and restaurants reopen? This is what we know so far.
When could pubs and restaurants reopen?
No specific date has been confirmed for lifting lockdown in Scotland, but Nicola Sturgeon has stated pubs and restaurants will not reopen ‘imminently’, while the focus remains on returning schoolchildren to classroom learning.
The First Minister has now confirmed school will be phased back to in-school learning from 22 February until 15 March, with other lockdown restrictions remaining until at least March, as “trade-offs' are required to prioritise education and visitation in care homes.
Speaking at her daily media briefing on 15 February, she said: "Right now the decisions we’re focused on are trying to get children back to school.
“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 people's expectations that that is coming in the immediate time-frame.”
The comments came in response to a question about the reopening of hospitality, such as pubs and restaurants.
Ms Sturgeon added: "Over the next couple of weeks we will set out some more thinking and it will be data as opposed to date-driven I think. But the order in which we try to get things back to normal.
“I think I said this last week, you are going to hear us talk a lot about trade-offs.
“We won’t be able to do everything for the next period and therefore we will have to decide what is most important to us and I think for most people children's wellbeing and education then visiting older relatives in care homes and more generally getting a bit more family time back.
“These are the kind of things we need to focus on first as we try more generally to get things back to normal."
At present, restaurants and pubs are legally forced to remain shut and as of 18 January, no alcoholic beverages can be served via takeaway and collections of food cannot take place inside premises. Deliveries are still permitted.
When can we expect tiered lockdowns to end?
Ms Sturgeon stated on 16 February that she will reveal Scotland’s roadmap out of lockdown next week (week commencing 22 February), following discussions with opposition parties, businesses and trade unions.
She also confirmed that the Scottish Government has met its target of giving the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine to all four top priority groups.
The roadmap will detail how Scotland will “gradually” resume “greater normality”, according to the First Minister.
The trade-offs could see hospitality settings take longer to return to full normality as they are considered one of the most likely places for Covid to spread.
Pubs and restaurants may not allow punters to socialise and enjoy normal hospitality settings until later in the year, as the second round of Covid vaccinations will not be completed until the end of July.
This is when the most vulnerable will have the greatest immunity to coronavirus.
There has also been speculation that the UK government could allow only the outdoor areas of pubs to reopen in the first instance - such as beer gardens and rooftop bars. It is not yet known whether this will be the approach taken by Sturgeon also.
What impact has coronavirus had on pubs in Scotland?
Hospitality has been one of the sectors worst impacted by the Covid pandemic, with a third of the UK’s jobs being in pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars.
The sector employs around 12 percent of Scotland's population - 220,000 people directly and a further 120,000 people indirectly.
In the first three months of lockdown in 2020, the UK hospitality industry shrunk by 23 percent and 85 percent of the workforce was furloughed.
Research by Statistica suggests that pubs across the UK lost 44 percent of profit in March 2020 - in comparison to the same period in 2019. This rose significantly in August when lockdown eased, to a loss of only 10 percent.
However, this soon came to an end due to a sharp rise in Covid cases.
Pubs and restaurants across the central belt - including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee - were all placed under a strict 6pm curfew, and a ban on sales of alcohol in licenced premises in some areas.
With the closure of all pubs and a ban on drinking takeaway beverages outdoors, it is expected that loss of profit will now be upwards of 90 percent.
The same could be said for restaurants, which suffered a 63 percent drop in sales in March 2020, when restrictions were much the same as they are currently.
As of December 2020, 279,000 jobs had been lost in the hospitality industry across the UK.
What support is available for the hospitality industry?
A sharp rise in profits seen in August and September can be attributed to the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, introduced by UK chancellor Rishi Sunak.
However, there has been some longer term support, such as the furlough scheme, which has paid the wages of thousands of workers across the UK, to the tune of £46.4m (December 2020).
The hospitality sector will not be required to pay business tax for the tax year of 2020-2021.
There are also bounceback loans, future funds and a business interruption loan scheme.
Rishi Sunak announced a further one-off payment for large businesses impacted by lockdown, which will support them until April.
You can view the financial support offered by the UK Government on its website.