The restrictions will be similar to those imposed in March.
The First Minister has announced that Scotland will go into full lockdown from midnight tonight as Covid cases continue to rise. Nicola Sturgeon made this announcement during her Covid-19 update this afternoon, after meeting with the Scottish Cabinet this morning to discuss whether or not the country should return to a full March-style lockdown.
People in Scotland are to be ordered to stay at home until the end of January amid a fresh Covid-19 lockdown, in the aim to curb the new, faster-spreading strain of the virus. Nicola Sturgeon has described the situation in Scotland as “extremely serious” as she announces another national lockdown. The new coronavirus strain has been found to be 70% more transmissible and can increase the R number by 0.7 and has accounted for almost half of all cases in Scotland.
The First Minister said: “Possibly the most simple way of explaining the challenge we face right now is to compare it to a race. In one lane we have vaccines – our job is to make sure they run as fast as possible.
“But in the other lane is the virus which – as a result of this new variant – has just learned to run much faster and has most definitely picked up pace in the last couple of weeks. To ensure that the vaccine wins the race, it is essential to speed up vaccination as far as possible. But to give it the time it needs to get ahead, we must also slow the virus down.
A further 1,905 people have tested positive for Covid-19 today and the First Minister said there is a ‘real risk’ of the NHS becoming overwhelmed as the hospital figures in Scotland are now ‘close’ to its April peak. NHS Ayrshire and Arran is currently at 96% of its Covid capacity, and three other health boards – Borders, Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Lanarkshire – are above 60% of their capacity.
Under the lockdown set to be imposed from midnight tonight, laws will require people to stay at home and work from home where possible, plus people in the “shielding” category are advised not to go in to work at all. In contrast to the first national lockdown, there will be no limit on how many times people can go out to exercise, and outdoor meetings are to be limited to a maximum of two people from two households, with children under 12 not included.
Nicola Sturgeon announced that places of worship are to be closed, group exercise banned, and schools will largely operate via online and remote learning until at least February. The number of people who can attend weddings will be reduced to five, and funerals having a 20 person limit but wakes will no longer be allowed.
Those in Scotland will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes such as essential shopping, exercise and caring responsibilities. The First Minister has also imposed a travel ban in which people cannot leave or enter Scotland unless for essential purposes.
The current 1-metre exemption for workplace canteens will end, extending it to two metres or more apart. The number of non-essential services which remain open will be further restricted including ski centres, showrooms of larger retailers, and clinics offering cosmetic and aesthetic procedures. The First Minister also plans to tighten which businesses will be considered essential. Grants will be made available to businesses required to close as a result of the restrictions.
These rules will apply across the Scottish mainland until at least the end of January, and will be kept under review. However, island areas will remain in level three of the five-tier coronavirus alert system – but Nicola Sturgeon said these areas would be monitored carefully.
Find more guidance on the national lockdown regulations which come into effect on Tuesday 5 January here.