‘Coronavirus won’t take Christmas off when rules are eased’

Nicola Sturgeon said Covid-19 will take the opportunity to spread from 'household to household'.

The First Minister has warned that coronavirus “won’t take Christmas off” even though restrictions are set to be eased over the festive period.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon said there was a lot of “anxiety” about the potential risks of relaxing the rules with the end of the pandemic looming “on the horizon”.

She said: “I’m afraid the virus won’t take Christmas off. And so if you provide it with opportunities to spread from household to household, it’s likely to take those.

“That would be a worry at any time, but perhaps more so when we could be within weeks of being able to vaccinate a significant proportion of the population.”

Sturgeon confirmed discussions were held on Saturday with the UK Government and devolved nations in regards to a four-nation approach to the regulations over Christmas, but stated that no agreement had been made.

She said: “We are making progress towards a common position across the UK, which we think is important because of family patterns. But it’s important for me to be clear that the details of this approach are still to be finalised.”

The First Minister said she hopes to confirm the festive rules and precautions later this week, but there are no plans to ease the regulations over New Year.

Sturgeon said the “slight and careful” easing of the rules will likely feature extended household bubbles for a short period of time to combat isolation and loneliness.

She said: “There is an obvious desire to see loved ones at Christmas. I think we all feel that very strongly. But there’s also a lot of anxiety about the potential risks associated with that, particularly at a time when we’re starting to see, perhaps, the end of this pandemic loom on the horizon.

“So we’re trying as hard as we can to reach a sensible balance, although it is possible – likely, in fact – that some households may be able to form slightly larger bubbles with each other for a short period over Christmas.

“We’re considering this because we recognise that isolation and loneliness can hit people particularly hard over the Christmas period.”

At the briefing, Sturgeon revealed that there have been no further coronavirus deaths overnight.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 89,310 – a jump of 949 in the past 24 hours.

The official death toll in Scotland stands at 3503, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 5100.

According to management information reported by NHS boards across Scotland, 1208 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of 38 overnight. Out of those, 84 patients are in intensive care.

Of the new cases, 370 are in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 190 are in Lanarkshire, 95 are in Lothian, and 83 are in Ayrshire and Arran.

The rest of the cases are spread out across seven other health board areas.

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