Sturgeon: ‘We’re not encouraging you to get together this Christmas’

Nicola Sturgeon said Scots don't have to create a bubble when rules are relaxed over the festive period.

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Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government is “not positively encouraging people to get together” over Christmas even though restrictions will be eased.

Up to three households will be allowed to mix indoors for up to five days over the festive period.

They will be able to travel between council areas and across the UK between December 23 and 27 to form a ‘bubble’ – but each household must only join one bubble.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister said: “That does not mean we are positively encouraging people to get together.

“I want to stress today that just because we are allowing people to create a bubble, it does not mean that you have to do it.

“And if you do choose to do it at all, you don’t have to do it to the maximum permitted.”

She added: “We are relying on people to make informed choices about whether or not to come together at all over the Christmas period.”

Sturgeon said guidance will be issued on Thursday.

Key points will include encouraging people to stay at home if they can, as well as limiting visits to other households.

Other suggestions include meeting family and friends for a walk and exchanging presents outdoors.

The First Minister said: “These are all difficult things to live by. As we head towards Christmas all of this will feel even more difficult – and that is saying something – than it has over these past eight months.

“As we go through this tough winter and tough festive period for all of us, let’s keep our eyes on that light that is getting brighter almost every day that passes right now that is there on the horizon.

“The end is in sight, let’s not forget that as we keep ourselves motivated through the remainder of this pandemic.”

At the briefing, Sturgeon revealed that a further 44 people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 90,961 – a jump of 880 in the past 24 hours.

The official death toll in Scotland now stands at 3588, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is at least 5380.

Of the new cases, 260 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 190 are in Lanarkshire, 122 are in Grampian and 94 are in Lothian.

The remaining cases are spread across eight other health board areas.

According to management information reported by NHS boards across Scotland, 1161 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – a decrease of 36 overnight. Out of those, 84 patients are in intensive care.