Nicola Sturgeon has apologised for sounding like the “Christmas killjoy” as she once again warned Scots who are planning to meet family and friends over the festive period.
The rules on household gatherings will be eased for five days between December 23 and 27 to allow up to eight people from three households to “bubble”.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Monday, the First Minister said the relaxation of restrictions was not “risk-free”.
She said: “Just because we can visit people indoors over Christmas on a limited basis, doesn’t mean that we have to.
“Any indoor meeting between different households obviously creates a risk.
“The virus will not take a break over the Christmas period, so don’t give it the opportunity to jump from household to household if you can possibly avoid it.”
Those that intend to meet others – especially elderly relatives – are being urged to reduce unnecessary contacts now.
Sturgeon said those that normally have weekly coffee catch-up with friends or car share should avoid doing so as a precaution to limit any chance of potentially contracting the virus and passing it on.
The First Minister said: “I’m sorry that I am starting to sound like the Christmas killjoy here.”
Sturgeon also said that while people might find it tempting to attend an office party, it would be safer to hold it virtually or postpone the celebrations until next spring or summer.
She said: “Office parties, especially if they involve alcohol, present a real risk of transmission.
“People are less likely to stick to physical distancing requirements than when they’re working and more likely to pass around food or drink without perhaps washing their hands as carefully as they should.
“So I’m asking everybody, please don’t take these risks.
“By far the best way of marking Christmas with your colleagues this year is to do it virtually.
“It’s not as much fun, I appreciate that, but it is much, much safer.
“I know all of this is hard, especially at the end of a horrible year when I think everybody could do with letting their hair down a bit, but these times are not normal.
“And it is really important that we get through them as safely as possible.”
It was also revealed at the briefing that there have been no further Covid-19 deaths in Scotland.
Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 106,904 – a jump of 734 in the past 24 hours.
The official death toll in Scotland currently stands at 4111, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now at least 6063 – which takes into account last week’s additional deaths.
According to management information reported by NHS boards across Scotland, 1012 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – a decrease of three overnight. Out of those, 46 patients are in intensive care.
Of the new cases reported on Monday, 213 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 135 are in Lothian and 95 are in Lanarkshire.
The rest of the cases are spread out across nine other health board areas.