Falling coronavirus case numbers and numbers of patients in hospital are among factors meaning Nicola Sturgeon is “optimistic” on further easing restrictions next month.
The First Minister said cases have more than halved in the past two weeks while the weekly figure of patients in hospital with the virus has fallen to 421 from 577 the previous week.
However, speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing she continued to warn of the need for caution as she announced seven deaths of coronavirus patients and 1,044 new cases in the past 24 hours.
She said: “We have seen some very positive developments recently and that goes give us, it certainly gives me, grounds for optimism that we will be able to continue our progress out restrictions.
“That said we do still need to be cautious.
“It’s good that case are lower than they were were three weeks ago, that comes as a relief I know to all of us, but they are still nine times higher than they were at the start of May and we know that the Delta variant is significantly more infectious than previous variants.
“So just as a sensible degree of caution up to now has helped us get case numbers back on a downward path a sensible degree of continued caution in the period ahead will help avoid sending that progress into reverse.”
She said a decision on whether further restrictions can be eased on August 9 as planned will be announced a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday August 3.
Leading up to this, she said, the Government would weigh up the different factors that will inform its decision on how many restrictions can be lifted.
Ms Sturgeon added: “I am confident we will make progress and while are already living with far fewer restrictions than has been the case in previous stages of the pandemic all of us want to see the remaining restrictions eased as soon as possible.
“That’s important to all of us as individuals, it’s very important to businesses and the economy but we will need to do that with appropriate caution and an appropriate degree of care.”
The First Minister said a “new milestone” has been reached as more than four million people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and urged those who have not yet taken up their vaccine offer to do so.
She said: “I’m pleased to say that firstly, as of this morning, a new milestone has passed.
“More than four million people, 4,000,653 to be precise, have now received a first dose of vaccine.”
A total of 3,108,928 people have received their second dose.
Ms Sturgeon said pregnant women are being strongly encouraged to come forward to be vaccinated.
She said: “The Scottish Government in line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is strongly recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine as soon as they are asked to do so.
“Vaccination is the best way of protecting against the risks of Covid and pregnancy and these include admission of the pregnant mother to intensive care, and also the possibility of premature birth.”
Giving a further update on the daily coronavirus figures, the First Minister said there were 472 people in hospital on Monday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down three on the previous day, with 63 patients in intensive care, down two.