Sturgeon asks Scots to cut down on contact with other households

The First Minister indicated her belief that the measures announced are essential.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she would not ask people to sacrifice more if she did not think it essential for public health and wellbeing.

It comes as the First Minister made a plea for people to cut down on contact with other households in the run-up to Christmas.

In a televised address, Sturgeon warned of the rise in Omicron cases, as she explained that measures, such as those seen in supermarkets at the start of the pandemic, would return.

From Wednesday, over-18s will also be able to book an appointment to receive their Covid booster jab.

“In this race between the virus and vaccines, as we speed up their delivery, we also need to slow down the virus,” said the First Minister in her address.

“Put simply, that means all of us having fewer contacts with fewer people and making sure those we do have are safer.

“To help workers and customers do that, we are putting a legal requirement on businesses to take reasonable steps to reduce transmission on their premises.

“So, in supermarkets for example, you will see the return of some of the measures that were in place at the start of the pandemic.

“And we are asking employers to do even more to support working from home. We know this is worrying news for business, especially in the hospitality trade which is being hard hit as people rightly follow advice to defer Christmas parties.

“So today we have put in place a package of financial support to help them and we are making more money available to ensure eligible people can claim isolation payments. No-one should find themselves unable to afford to do the right thing to protect themselves and others from Covid.”

Sturgeon asked that people minimise their indoor social interactions with other households, but insisted she is not seeking for people to cancel or change their plans for Christmas.

She said: “Please believe me when I say I would not be asking you to sacrifice more if I did not think it essential for the health and the wellbeing of all of us.

“We are not banning household mixing in law, as we had to do before. We know the impact of this on mental health.

“And I am not asking you to cancel or change your plans for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, or whenever you have your main festive celebration.

“But in the run-up to and in the aftermath of Christmas, I am asking, I am appealing to everyone to cut down as far as possible our contact with people in other households.

“My key request to all of you today is as far as you can, please minimise your indoor social interactions with other households at this time.

“And if you do plan on socialising, either at home or in indoor public places, please limit the number of households represented in your group to a maximum of three and test before you go.”

She added: “Speaking to you in these terms is the last thing I wanted to be doing a few days before Christmas.

“We have all had enough of this, but the threat from Omicron is severe and we must respond seriously.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar urged people to follow the Covid rules and to get a booster when they can.

“The rapid spread of the omicron variant is a real cause for concern, and we must take the right decisions in the national interest,” he said.

“We all have a duty to protect each other, and do what is in the best interests of our country and our NHS.

“So can I urge the people of Scotland – do your duty, follow the rules and get a booster when you can.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The Scottish and UK Governments have both examined the spread of this new variant and it is clearly more transmissible, with the potential to severely impact our NHS and other vital services.

“So let me reiterate the key requests to everyone. Those who can, go out and get your booster jag as soon as possible. Take a Covid test as often as you can.

“Test before you go out to bars and restaurants, before you go to meet your family, before you go to work.

“And take every precaution possible to protect your family and the people around you.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton meanwhile welcomed the reversal of a decision to downgrade the vaccine hub at Edinburgh’s Highland Showground to a smaller venue to accommodate a 3500 person rave this weekend.

He said: “When Royal Highland Showground approached me to set out their concerns, I was extremely worried.

“The Government are supposed to be driving forward the booster programme but because of a lack of financial support, it looks as if we were going to see the city’s biggest vaccine hub dismantled and vaccination capacity halved for the fortnight before Christmas.  

“The RHS wanted to do the right thing but to cancel would cost them more than £60,000 and there was no guarantee of financial support from the government.

“I am glad that the health secretary heard my case and that the First Minister has now confirmed that the vaccine hub is secured.”

At the Scottish Parliament, deputy first minister John Swinney announced that Lady Poole QC, Senator of the College of Justice of Scotland, will chair Scotland’s Covid inquiry.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code