The first minister announced that children’s parties could still go ahead – despite new social gatherings restrictions.
Nicola Sturgeon gave an update on the current outbreaks across Scotland during the daily coronavirus briefing this afternoon.
She announced that a further 175 new cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours, with the majority of confirmed positive tests in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region.
Ms Sturgeon added that the outbreak in Lanarkshire is causing “some particular concern” and there will be ongoing discussions before applying additional restrictions.
Ms Sturgeon said she wanted to highlight the new rules and guidelines put in place yesterday, with special emphasis on social gatherings.
New guidelines on social gatherings
As of Monday, people should meet in groups of no more than six, from a maximum of two households.
The limit of six people applies regardless of whether are people are meeting indoors – in houses, pubs or restaurants – or outside.
But she said that children under the age of 12 would not count towards the limit when two households meet.
The first minister said while children from several households should not currently meet up, she had asked for “additional expert advice to see whether in some circumstances we could exempt children from the two household rule as well, so for example children’s birthday parties could go ahead, even on a limited basis as long as adults complied with the limits”.
She said she hoped this could be clarified in the next few days.
She added: “I know that is a really tough restriction.
“I want to assure you the decision we made on this wasn’t taken lightly. At the moment we believe this is necessary to try to limit and restrict as much as we can the transmission of the virus between different households.
“This virus wants to find new households to infect – that’s pretty much all it cares about.
“So, in order to push it into retreat, like we did over the summer, we have to limit the opportunities for it to spread between households.
“Whether this household thrives or dies is down to the opportunities we give it or deny it.”
Limited exceptions include organised sports and places of worship.
There is also a limit of 20 people at funeral wakes, civil partnerships and wedding receptions.
Ms Sturgeon accepted the rules “sometimes seem to be inconsistent”, saying she had been messaged by a younger relative asking “pretty forcefully why she could be with her friends at school all day to today but can’t be with her friends after school”.
She said: “The basic answer is this, we’re having to restrict interactions in the population generally to try to keep the virus at a low enough level to keep schools open, because we know being at school is so important for young people.
“So what can sometimes appear to be inconsistencies are actually just the essential trade-offs we need to make to avoid going back into lockdown more completely and to avoid if at all possible having to close schools again.”
Other changes being brought in means customers in indoor hospitality – such as bars, restaurants and cafes – will be required to wear face coverings when not eating or drinking.
This means when entering the premises, leaving or getting up to go to the bathroom.
And it will be made mandatory – with some exceptions – for staff to wear face coverings too.
More than 600,000 app downloads
The first minister also thanked the public for downloading the new app and said 600,000 people have downloaded it since its launch.
She added that in order for it to be effective, and to “live a bit more normally” that we “would need as many people as possible across Scotland to download it and use it”.
Ms Sturgeon made assurances that the app is confidential, anonymous and requires no personal details.
The app was designed in order to enhance the existing Test and Protect system.
She said that “one of the crucial things about it is it helps to reduce the time it takes to notify contacts”, saying it could give “almost immediate notification” to people if someone they had been in contact with had tested positive for Covid-19.
Ms Sturgeon said the numbers signing up to use the app had been “excellent” and “probably beyond our initial expectations”.
She added: “We’ve got to keep that going, we’ve got to keep the numbers growing, because the more of us who download and use it, the more effective this app will be.”
BBC to end daily Scottish Government broadcast
When asked by the press to address the news the BBC will stop the live broadcasts of the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefings, she said it was not “up to her a as a politician” to decide what the BBC broadcasts.
She added that the briefings “at a time like this” have been a public service and the televising of the briefings have been “important” to communicate information and advice.
Ms Sturgeon said the BBC has “served Scotland well over the past few months”.
“We are clearly now at a point where the virus is accelerating again,” she added.
“We are going into winter so it becomes more important, not less important in this next period, for me to be able to continue that very direct communication.”
She reminded the public that the briefings will remain to be televised on the Scottish Government channels, however, she acknowledged not everyone is as “hooked into technology”.
A BBC Scotland spokesman said: “We will continue to provide extensive coverage of the government press conferences across our news services, including live streaming online.
“We will of course consider showing press conferences live when any major developments or updates are anticipated.”