All current coronavirus restrictions to remain in place

Measures banning household visits and limiting other gatherings to six people will stay in force.

All existing coronavirus restrictions and guidance will remain in place for now, the First Minister has confirmed.

The Scottish Government continues to advise all those who can do so to work from home, while household visits will stay banned and the rule of six remains in force for other gatherings.

Meanwhile, there are no changes to recent hospitality measures which ban pubs, restaurants and cafes from serving alcohol indoors and restrict them to a 6pm indoor curfew.

In five health board areas in the central belt where Covid cases are soaring, including in Glasgow and Edinburgh, all hospitality venues except cafes are closed altogether until October 26.

Nicola Sturgeon gave the update virtually to MSPs as part of the three-weekly review of Scottish lockdown measures.

It comes as 13 more Scots have died with Covid-19 and the country has recorded 1351 new cases overnight.

There are 31 more people in hospital with the virus in Scotland, taking the total to 601, and 51 patients in intensive care, two more in the last 24 hours.

Of the new cases – which amount to 17.6% of those newly-tested – 450 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 374 are in Lanarkshire, 161 are in Lothian and 111 are in Ayrshire and Arran.

These health board areas, along with NHS Forth Valley, are the five in central Scotland subject to temporary pub and restaurant closures.

In addition, residents in the five regions are being asked not to travel outside their health board area other than for unavoidable reasons.

And the First Minister said her government is considering wider travel restrictions similar to Wales, which is banning people from high-prevalence areas in other parts of the UK from coming to the country.

On Wednesday, Sturgeon urged Scots to specifically not travel to Blackpool after 180 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were found to have links to the seaside town in England.

Addressing the virtual meeting of MSPs on Thursday, she told MSPs that this figure has since risen to 286.

“Love, kindness and solidarity are more important now than ever before.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The FM called on the public to “be kinder to each other than we might normally be” ahead of what will likely be “a difficult few months”.

Sturgeon added: “I know it can sound cliched, but I will make no apology for saying that love, kindness and solidarity are more important now than ever before.

“Even just a smile and a kind word can help make a tough day slightly better.”

The First Minister urged Scots to remember some “key truths” – among them that the pandemic will one day pass, and that people will refer to it in the past tense.

But she warned Scotland is at a “critical moment” in its fight against the virus, meaning difficult decisions needed to be made.

As a result, all existing Covid measures will stay in place, likely for another three weeks although she added all restrictions are subject to ongoing review.

However, the temporary national and local restrictions in hospitality are separate, and expire on October 26.

Sturgeon pledged that when the nationwide 6pm curfew and the central belt hospitality ban are lifted, they will be replaced by a new “strategic approach” that will “strengthen our resilience to live with this virus”.

But she added this would not be a “return to normal” – and that the Scottish Government “cannot rule out” imposing greater restrictions if coronavirus cases continue to spike.

As part of a £40m package to support businesses hit by the latest restrictions and closures, a new £20m grant fund administered by councils will open to applications from Tuesday, the First Minister confirmed.

She said: “I would encourage all eligible businesses who need support to apply.”

After the October recess, Sturgeon said MSPs would debate a new “strategic framework” for tackling the virus to be put forward by the government.

Scotland’s testing strategy will be a key part of this framework, but it will also detail support for businesses in the future should they be the subject of further Covid restrictions, she said.

Measures to increase compliance with self-isolation orders will also be detailed, as well as how those on low incomes will be helped amid the introduction of a new £500 support payment.

A draft of the framework will be made available to opposition parties and a “detailed briefing” will be held for party leaders.

The First Minister added: “A global pandemic of an infectious virus will require emergency action and quick legislation.

“But as we prepare to live with Covid for an extended period, we recognise that this imperative must be balanced by the need for robust and, whenever possible, pre-emptive parliamentary scrutiny.”

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