Tourism chiefs in the north-east say the lifting of travel restrictions means the region is “one step closer” to welcoming visitors once more.
Her announcement brought forward a measure which was originally meant to remain in place until April 26 under the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown.
It means people from other parts of Scotland will once again be able to make trips to the north-east – although hotels and other accommodation must remain closed for the next two weeks except for essential reasons.
Up to six people from six different households will also be allowed to meet outdoors, an increase from the current four people from two households.
Chris Foy, the chief executive of the local tourism body VisitAberdeenshire, described the move as a “positive signal”.
He said: “The easing of travel restrictions across Scotland from Friday is a positive signal for local tourism businesses ahead of phased reopening of the sector from April 26.
“We are one step closer to welcoming visitors back to the region.”
In her statement, Ms Sturgeon said ministers had looked at what they could do to “boost mental health and wellbeing”.
“In particular, we have looked at travel within Scotland to see friends and family, albeit outdoors,” she added.
“At the moment, we cannot leave our own local authority areas except for an essential purpose.
“That rule was due to remain in place until the 26 April, but the data allows us to make a change to this earlier than that.
“So, from Friday this week we will all be able to travel anywhere within Scotland for the purposes of outdoor socialising, recreation, or informal exercise.
“From the end of this week, you will be able to meet up with family and friends who live in different parts of the country. Many of those reunions will be long-awaited, and much anticipated.
“But please do remember that meetings at this stage, probably until the middle of May, meetings must still be outdoors – not inside our own homes.
“I would ask everyone to please be careful and remember that due to physical distancing, public transport capacity remains relatively limited.”
City councillor Marie Boulton said the move would ease “cabin fever” among the public.
“I think the relaxation of travel restrictions around Scotland will be welcome by people, particularly by those who haven’t been able to see close family members,” she said.
“The vaccination programme across the whole of the UK is giving people more confidence to go out and about and the cabin fever people are feeling will hopefully fade quickly.
“It is critical that all areas of our economy can open up again fully which will not only improve the finances but people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“The majority of people have played their part in reducing the spread of Covid by acting responsibly but I think the time is right to start trusting people to get on with life.”
The relaxed rules mean people are allowed to travel between local authority areas for non-essential reasons for the first time since December.
It means those living in Aberdeenshire will be permitted to travel into Aberdeen to visit attractions such as Duthie Park and the beach, while city residents could make the trip to climb Bennachie.
Dave McDermid from Friends of Duthie Park believes visitor numbers to the park will be boosted following the new lockdown relaxation.
He said: “Obviously, it will, although there are still areas like the winter gardens that are not open yet, that’s still to be determined.
“There is no doubt that the warmer weather and the fact people can mix a bit more, will very much increase numbers and its very welcome.
“Although, having said that, the park has been really busy throughout lockdown with people maintaining social distancing, etcetera.
“But they’ve been there in their numbers as anyone who has been to the park over the last few months will testify.”
The new rules will come into force on Friday.