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Lockdown: Nicola Sturgeon announces restrictions 'similar' to those in place in March of last year from midnight; First Minister says it's a race between vaccine and virus and that immediate action is vital

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Highlands along with the rest of Scotland has been placed into a full lockdown starting from midnight.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she is more concerned now than “at any time since March last year".

Following a cabinet meeting, she described the situation as a race between the vaccine programme and the spiraling number of cases and the new highly contagious variant of Covid.

The gravity of the situation, with 1905 new cases confirmed today, saw Ms Sturgeon recall Scottish Parliament for the second time in four weeks and just the fifth time ever.

The fresh positive tests were down on the 2464 recorded on Sunday.

There have been no localised breakdowns of coronavirus figures over the New Year weekend, and the next set of figures for NHS Highland will not be released until this afternoon – when the case load from January 1 to January 4 will finally be known.

She likened the raft of new measures as being similar to the lockdown imposed on the country in March 2020, however there were some significant changes.

  • People are only allowed to leave home for essential purposes, which include food shopping, caring for someone and exercise. Unlike in March, there will be no limitation placed on the duration of time that exercise that can be taken
  • Schools will close at least until the end of January with online learning taking the place of face to face teaching in classrooms
  • Businesses have been asked to review their operations to ensure that everything that can be done from home should be done from home. For those who were shielding, they must now work from home.
  • All outdoor gatherings will be reduced from six people from two households down to two people from two households for everyone aged 12 years and over while 11 and under can still relatively freely mix and play together
  • From Friday, all religious services will no longer be permitted, while only 20 people will be permitted at funerals and no wakes are now banned. Weddings and civil partnerships will be limited to five people.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The cabinet met this morning to assess the up to date Covid situation, which I must say at the outset is extremely serious, and to discuss the conclusions we reached shortly.

“I can confirm now that in summary we have decided to introduce from midnight tonight for the duration of January a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes.

“This is similar to the lockdown of March last year.

"This is not just about one single day's numbers, we are now seeing a steeply rising trend of infections - indeed it is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.

She warned that without action Scotland could "breach" in-patient capacity within two or three weeks if no action was taken.

Related: Stay home message endorsed by Ross-based MSP

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