NHS Lanarkshire has suspended all but “essential” visiting across its hospitals amid the rise in Omicron coronavirus variant cases and pressure on the health service.
The health board said it had been a “very difficult” decision as it understood the positive impact of support from loved ones on patient wellbeing.
It follows Public Health Scotland issuing a plea urging people to cancel Christmas parties due to the number of Covid-19 outbreaks linked to such events.
Visitors will only be allowed in to see patients who would be distressed or suffer by not seeing a family member.
NHS Lanarkshire nurse director Susan Friel said: “We understand that patients in hospital are having a challenging time and want to have their family and friends around them for support.
“It is our priority to protect our patients and staff as much as is possible and this is why we have made the difficult decision to reintroduce essential visiting at this time.”
The move will limit the number of people going into hospitals and reduce the risk of the Omicron variant being passed to patients and staff, the health board said.
The restriction will be kept under regular review and essential visitors are urged to take a Lateral Flow Test before attending hospital.
“We hope everyone will understand that this decision has been made in the best interests of patients, other visitors and our staff,” Mrs Friel said.