People across West Dunbartonshire will be able to welcome others into their homes for non-essential purposes for the first time since last August.

Nicola Sturgeon has this afternoon confirmed planned easing of lockdown restrictions will come into force on Monday meaning up to three households can gather within a home, with a maximum number of six adults. Children will not count towards the total number of people.

West Dunbartonshire has been one of the worst affected areas in respect of restrictions with indoor gatherings banned by the First Minister at the end of August last year.

Hospitality also faced tough restrictions including a closure which started in October and remained in place until December. Pubs and restaurants only opened again last month.

Also from Monday, up to six adults from three households can meet in an indoor public place such as a pub and bars can sell alcohol indoors up until 10.30pm.

Although warning against hugging in public places, the First Minister said, within homes, social distancing wouldn't be required, allowing people to hug their loved ones once again.

This move has been welcomed by charity Age Scotland whose Chief Executive Brian Sloan said: “This news will be warmly welcomed by millions of families across Scotland, especially those who have been cut off from their loved ones for the best part of a year.

“After many long and difficult months, I’m sure there will be many tears of joy when families are finally able to reunite.

“While outdoor meetings are already permitted, they aren’t feasible for those who live too far away for a day trip or many people with health conditions. Relaxing restrictions on overnight visits means hundreds of thousands of people will now be able to travel to meet their friends and relatives again.

“We’ve heard from numerous older people who desperately miss their families, and grandparents who haven’t even met a new grandchild yet. While phone and video calls can be a lifeline, they are no substitute for meeting in person and hugging children and grandchildren.

“While we’re not yet out of the woods, this is an important step on the road back to normality.

“The last year has taken a huge toll on many older people’s mental health and well-being, with soaring levels of loneliness and isolation. Now that infections are falling, and most older people are fully vaccinated, they can now have the confidence to start to pick up their lives again.”

People will also be able to enjoy overnight stays as part of the relaxation of rules.

For more local news, click here