PLACES of worship are likely to be among the first to reopen under a road map out of lockdown, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the Scottish Government will give the likes of churches and synagogues "priority" when she sets out a strategic framework for easing restrictions next week. 

Under current rules to slow the spread of Covid-19, venues can only open for limited purposes - including to perform funeral services - and with reduced numbers in attendance. 

READ MORE: Glasgow's places of worship adapt for life with Covid-19

In the Scottish Parliament today, Elaine Smith, MSP for Central Scotland, asked Ms Sturgeon: "With schools beginning to return and Lent starting tomorrow, can she [the First Minister] give some reassurance to churches in her strategic framework so that they can be amongst some of the first places to reopen? 

"Hopefully, in time to celebrate Easter."

The First Minister responded: "We will try to get places of worship back to normality... places of worship are not closed, but the ability to worship normally and freely is restricted.

"I greatly regret that which I know everybody does, so we want to get that back to normality as quickly as possible.

Glasgow Times: Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon

"Without pre-empting what we will say next week, you will see there is a priority given to getting places of worship open again given the importance we attach to that."

As we have previously reported, a small number of church leaders, including some in Glasgow, launched legal last month action against the decision to close places of worship. 

However, the country's major denominations - such as the Church of Scotland - distanced themselves from the move. 

READ MORE: Legal action launched over church closures in Scotland

Ms Sturgeon added: "We will continue to try to do that as quickly as possible. I know so many people feel very strongly about this and I do understand, but nobody in the government, and that includes me, wants to have anywhere operating less than normally for any longer than is necessary.

"We are going to have make choices about what matters most to us. Sometimes these will be difficult choices." 

Earlier today, Ms Sturgeon confirmed a phased return for selected school pupils will begin on Monday and she urged caution over booking holidays this Easter.