First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “optimistic” this could take place after no new Covid deaths were recorded for the second day in a row yesterday.
The next phase of easing restrictions could see smaller shops reopening and different households allowed to meet indoors, while pubs and restaurants could open outdoor spaces. Marriages and civil partnerships could also take place, with minimal numbers of people attending.
Ms Sturgeon said the virus is “in retreat” but warned that the country remains at a “critical juncture” in the battle against the pandemic.
At her daily coronavirus briefing yesterday, she revealed there were no new deaths, just as on Sunday. This means the total number of patients who tested positive for Covid-19 and have died remains at 2,415.
The current restrictions will be reviewed on Thursday 18 June and the second phase of Scotland’s exit from lockdown could involve shops reopening if their floorspace is no more than 80 square metres, with physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I would hope that we will move into the next phase of the route map out of lockdown and that will include some move around small retail in particular.
“These are assessments that are ongoing. We have to take decisions at a pace that is right for Scotland and in a way that doesn’t risk a resurgence of the virus.
“But I very much hope if we continue to see the progress we are now reporting on a daily basis, that the move into the next phase will be possible when I come to give that review on Thursday.”
A total of 15,639 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, up 18 from 15,621 the day before.
There are 1,042 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of 40 from the previous day, and 24 patients are in intensive care, a decrease of one.
Across the UK, the daily number of reported deaths has fallen to its lowest level since before the lockdown was announced, at 55 in the 24 hours to 5pm on Sunday.
Ms Sturgeon said a second consecutive day with no new deaths in Scotland is “very encouraging”.
She added: “I can’t tell you how long I have waited to be able to report such a development.”
But despite the falling numbers, the First Minister did strike a note of caution, warning the virus could still return.
She added: “This is such a crucial juncture in our battle against this virus. We will either keep going, keep beating it back, as we are now, or we will give it the chance to roar back with a vengeance. We must, must do the former.”
More deaths from the virus are likely to be reported in the coming days.
Those at great risk of serious harm from coronavirus had been told to shield until 18 June, with this now extended until the end of July.
But the First Minister said people in the shielded category can leave their home for daily exercise from 18 June, provided they do not live in care homes.
They are still being advised not to meet up with other people from different households.
The change will also not apply to those in a nursing or residential care home.
Shielding is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
The First Minister stressed it “remains necessary” and should continue until 31 July.
But she said she hoped to be able to move to a “tailored position” where individuals will be given more specialist advice on how to protect themselves from the virus.
“There are no words that will ever adequately express the sorrow that I feel for all that you have gone through, or indeed the gratitude that I feel for the way that you have borne it,” she said.
The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said some non-essential stores in Northern Ireland are already reopening, with England planning for more stores to allow shoppers back from next week.
SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Those shops who have been open and trading during the crisis have led the way in providing a safe environment for shoppers and staff.
“Those stores still to be allowed to re-open are putting in place the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures to protect customers and staff.
Retail will be ready to play its part in getting Scotland’s economy moving again. Retail can be a springboard for the economy to bounce back but it must be able to open.”