First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced in Scottish Parliament today a number of restrictions which will be enforced after Christmas in order to help curb the rise of coronavirus cases in the country. Addressing MSPs at Holyrood this afternoon, the First Minister stated that Scots will be required to limit the number of contacts that they meet with as well as a reduction in the capacity required at live public events such as sports matches.
In her statement, Nicola Sturgeon announced that the R number (rate of transmission) is “well above three” and that 5,242 new cases have been reported in the past 24 hours, plus cases have risen by more than 50% in the past week from over 3,500 a day to almost 5,500 a day. She said: “We are already seeing a significant impact from staff absences across the economy and public services. We must do what we can to stem this. And secondly, we know from experience that if we wait until the data tells us conclusively that we have a problem with hospital admissions, it is already too late to avoid the problem.
“We must act quickly – in so far as we are able given our financial constraints – and get ahead of the data if we can. So the obligation of government is to take difficult decisions to keep the country as safe as possible, no matter how unpopular they might be.”
The First Minister also stressed that she would not be changing the advice for Christmas that she set out last week, saying “it is important that with just a few days to go, there is certainty about family gatherings on Christmas Day and Boxing Day”. She added: “I am not asking anyone to change these. However – and I cannot stress this enough – please follow advice to keep family celebrations as safe as possible. Keep gatherings as small as family circumstances allow.”
The first change to restrictions will take place on December 26, expected to last three weeks, and will see limits placed on the size of public events, however these do not apply to private life events such as weddings. For indoor standing events the limit will be 100, for indoor seated events it will be 200 and for outdoor events this will be 500 seated or standing.
Physical distancing of 1 metre will also be required at events that go ahead within these limits and the First Minister added that “this will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three week period”. With this announcement, it will also mean that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations will not take place plus non-professional indoor contact sports should not take place from December 26.
Nicola Sturgeon also announced further restrictions stating, “From 27 December – as we come out of the Christmas weekend – and at least until the end of the first week in January when we will review this advice again, please go back to limiting your contacts as much as possible. Please stay at home as much as possible. When you do go out, please maintain physical distancing from people not in your group. And difficult though it is, please follow this advice over New Year – minimise Hogmanay socialising as much as you can.”
In addition, there will be further protections in hospitality settings and other indoor public places which will be effective from December 27. Table service only will be reintroduced for venues serving alcohol for consumption on the premises. Indoor hospitality and leisure venues must ensure a 1 metre distance between groups of people who are attending together, and these groups should not include people from more than three households.
For more information regarding Covid-19 restrictions and guidance in Scotland, head to the government website here.