Families and friends will be able to visit care home residents from early March. 

Each resident will be able to have up to two designated visitors which can both visit once a week. 

It comes after 99.9% of older care home residents and 92% of staff received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Deaths from coronavirus in care homes have fallen by 62% in the last three weeks, according to NRS data. 

Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman said: “The decisions regarding restrictions on visiting for care home residents have been some of the most difficult we have faced and I have the greatest sympathy for those who have been unable to see relatives and loved ones in person for so long.

“Care home staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support continued contact between residents and their loved ones but these restrictions have been hugely challenging for them, as well as for care home staff and colleagues.

“We deeply regret the deaths and other harm caused by coronavirus in our care homes, but we also recognise the harm caused to the wellbeing of residents and families as a result of an inability to see those they love."

However, the health secretary warned we will need to "remain vigilant". 

Donald MacAskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said: “The COVID pandemic has presented frontline care home staff and managers with many challenges but undoubtedly the hardest has been keeping residents apart from family and friends. 

The Scottish Care boss is confident the range of Covid-19 protection in place ensure indoor visiting can be reintroduced.

"This day has been long-awaited and we understand that it will be an emotional time for many," he added.

Cathie Russell of Care Home Relatives Scotland said: “We look forward to working with care home providers, public health and oversight teams to ensure that the new guidance allows residents to enjoy meaningful contact with their closest relatives and friends once more. It has been a very difficult year. The deepest ties of love are important and we can never thrive without them.”

What do we know 

Residents will be able to choose two designated visitors. Each visitor will be allowed one visit per week.

Full guidelines for visitation will be published on Wednesday, February 24. 

Visitors will need to wear face coverings and any PPE requested by care homes and will be encouraged to take a Covid-19 test on-site. 

Care homes will facilitate regular weekly contact as long as certain safety conditions are met

In the event of an outbreak of the virus at a care home, visiting may be restricted.