Nicola Sturgeon has told employers who had staff working from home at the start of the pandemic to enable them to do so again, amidst an increase in cases of the Omicron variant.
The First Minister indicated that people should be allowed to work from home until the middle of January, at which point the advice will be reviewed.
Providing a Covid update at the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon said that as of 5pm on Monday, there were 99 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Scotland.
In a statement to MSPs, the First Minister described Omicron as a “concerning development” as she indicated that community transmission may be more widespread and potentially more sustained across the country.
And despite ruling out further lockdown restrictions, Sturgeon restated the importance of following the existing protection measures.
“We already advise people to work from home where practical,” she said, as she set out the work from home measure.
“Today, I am asking employers to ensure this is happening.
“To be blunt, if you had staff working from home at this start of the pandemic, please now enable them to do so again.
“We are asking you to do this from now until the middle of January when we will review this advice again.
“I know this is difficult, but I cannot stress enough how much difference we think this could make in helping stem transmission and avoid the need for even more onerous measures.”
Sturgeon also highlighted the need for regular testing, including taking a lateral flow test before mixing with people from other households, as well as encouraging people to receive their Covid vaccinations and boosters.
She said: “Omicron is a really concerning development. But the actions that have helped us against other variants, will also help against Omicron.
“That means we all know what we need to do to in the days and weeks ahead.
“And so my request to everyone is to follow those steps. Please go back to basics and make sure you are doing everything we are doing.
“That’s the best way we have of making Christmas and the new year as safe as is possible – and of maximising our ability to navigate this next challenge without any additional protections.
“It will also help us protect the NHS. So please, get vaccinated.”
“None of this is what any of us want, two years into this ordeal. I know that.”Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister
The First Minister concluded: “You were working from home at the start of the pandemic, please do so again for the next few weeks.
“None of this is what any of us want, two years into this ordeal. I know that.
“But it is the best way of slowing the spread of the virus in general and Omicron in particular.
“And by doing that, we do give ourselves the best possible chance of enjoying a Christmas that is more normal, but also safe – and of avoiding a new year hangover of spiralling cases.
“Please, and I really hope this will be for one last time in this pandemic, let’s all pull together, do what is necessary, and get each other and the country through this winter and into what we all hope will be a better and brighter spring.”