‘Stay at home’ advice could become law in level-four lockdown

People in the highest tier of restrictions will be strongly advised to stay home as much as possible from Boxing Day.

Advice to stay at home from Boxing Day could become law, the First Minister has said.

When all of mainland Scotland goes into level four on Saturday, people will be asked to stay at home as much as possible.

But the guidance could be strengthened as the country tries to get to grips with a new, more infectious strain of coronavirus.

Another 43 deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, along with 1316 new cases of Covid-19.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon said: “For those living in level four areas, which from Saturday will be the vast majority of us, our strong advice is to stay as local as possible and to stay at home as much as possible.

“And we will be considering in the days ahead, whether we need to place that advice in law.”

She added the government will consider whether there is a “need to strengthen level four restrictions any further”.

“Again I need to be blunt with parliament and the public,” she said. “The current level four restrictions are not as stringent as the March lockdown and that up until now has been a good thing.

“However, it does seem that we may be facing a virus that spreads much faster now than in March, so we do need to consider whether the current level four restrictions will be sufficient to suppress it in the weeks ahead.”

Hospitality and non-essential retail are required to close in level four and the First Minister clarified that homeware stores and garden centres will also have to close, with the exception of click and collect.

As part of the changes from Saturday, mainland Scotland will be moved into level four for three weeks, while Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles will be moved from level one into level three.

The Scottish Government previously decided to delay the start of the new school term for most pupils, and have classes start back with online learning.

Sturgeon said this “precautionary approach” had been needed to give ministers time to assess the impact the new strain could have on schools and education.

She told how the government had taken the “difficult decision to delay the start of the new school term” to January 11 and to have “at least” the first week of studies online.

Sturgeon added: “Our intention is that schools will get back to normal from January 18 – but we will require to keep this under review.”

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