Festive Covid restrictions tightened

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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Planned easing of festive restrictions will now be limited to Christmas Day only.

And, from Boxing Day, all of Scotland will have level four restrictions applied for at least three weeks, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles which will be put in level three.

Speaking at a special briefing on Saturday afternoon, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon informed the nation that restrictions had to be tightened to stop the spread of a new highly contagious strain of Covid-19.

A maximum of eight people from three households can still meet up indoors on Christmas Day but official advice is to keep the numbers as low as possible.

Where possible, people should celebrate the festive period at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors – some specific exemptions will apply.

Travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK over Christmas will not be legal but people can travel within Scotland on December 25 only.

Also from Boxing Day, in line with existing law, travel across local authority boundaries will not be allowed unless for essential work, care and medical appointments.

The first minister also set out new plans for the return of schools in the New Year. Teachers will return to work as planned and children of key workers and the most vulnerable children, will also go back to class.

For the majority of pupils, the holiday period will now be extended until January 11 and learning will begin online from then until at least January 18.

All these measures will be kept under regular review.

The first people in Argyll and Bute to receive Covid-19 vaccinations were a number of staff at Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban.

Liz Higgins, Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s lead nurse, described it as ‘good news’ for the district.

However, she added that the vaccination programme was ‘a huge undertaking’ which would roll into the new year, and urged people to keep following Covid guidelines this Christmas.