Scotland is facing a fresh three-week lockdown from Boxing Day, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The first minister issued an emergency statement tonight to outline a series of measures designed to combat a new Covid strain taking hold north of the border.
- Every mainland region of the country will be moved into Level 4 restrictions from December 26
- The relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period will be scaled back to December 25 only
- Cross-border travel to other parts of the UK will be banned
- Christmas holidays for most pupils will be extended until January 11 and most schools will be closed entirely until January 18
Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles will face Level 3 restrictions.
Ms Sturgeon said scaling back people’s Christmas plans and returning Scotland to severe lockdowns “makes [her] want to cry”.
She said: “I know how harsh this sounds, I know how unfair it is.
“But this virus is unfair. It doesn’t care about Christmas, it only cares about spreading itself as far and wide as possible.
“Please stay home and stay safe this Christmas, that is in your own interest and in the interest of everybody you love.”
Mr Johnson effectively cancelled Christmas for millions in London and across south-east England by banning mixing between households in those areas.
The rest of England will also see the Christmas “bubble” policy – allowing up to three household to meet up over the holiday period – severely curtailed, applying on Christmas Day only.
Research has concluded that this new strain of Covid is 70% more transmissible, prompting fears that it could take hold across the UK.
The rising infection numbers in England and Wales has prompted the Scottish Government’s decision to impose a travel ban.
Ms Sturgeon said: “In order to reduce the risk of more of the [coronavirus] strain being imported into Scotland, we intend to maintain a strict travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“Unfortunately, and I am genuinely sorry about this, that ban will remain in place right throughout the festive period.
“We simply cannot risk more of this new strain entering the country if we can possibly avoid it.
“That means people from Scotland not visiting other parts of the UK, and vice versa.
“Cross-border travel for all but the most essential purposes is not permitted.”
What happens in Level 4?
Under these rules:
- People should not be meeting in each other’s homes
- Up to two households – totalling no more than six – can meet in a private garden or a public place like a park
- Only essential retail can open providing they follow and have implemented Scottish government guidance to ensure the safety of customers and staff
- All bars and restaurants will be closed
- Indoor sports facilities, including gyms, will be closed
Christmas holidays for most Scottish pupils have been extended to January 11 and the majority will begin the new term studying from home.
The first minister said schools will reopen as currently scheduled for some pupils, such as children of key workers.
But for most pupils, the new school term will begin on January 11, with online learning until “at least” January 18.