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Five major changes to the coronavirus restrictions in Scotland have been announced.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed proposed changes around takeaways, alcohol, shopping, working and being outdoors.
Subject to approval by the Scottish Parliament this week, there will be a further ‘tightening up’ from Saturday due to the new variant causing cases to treble, she said.
She told parliament: ‘I know none of this makes for enjoyable listening. It gives me no pleasure to be talking about further restrictions on businesses and our individual freedoms to come and go as we please, but please know we would not be doing any of this if we did not believe it was essential to get and keep this potentially deadly virus under control.’
They are as follows:
CLICK AND COLLECT ORDERS
Limiting the availability and operation of click and collect retail services. Clothes, food, footwear, baby equipment, homeware and books will still be allowed – all other click and collect services must stop, she said.
There must also be ‘staggered appointments’ for click and collect to avoid potential for queuing and no access inside premises for collection will be permitted
‘We must reduce the reasons people have right now for leaving home and coming into contact with others,’ said Miss Sturgeon.
There will be new restrictions to takeaway services. Customers will no longer be permitted to go inside to collect takeaway food or drinks, she said. Any outlet wanting to do so will have to offer it from a serving hatch or doorway – to reduce the risk of customers coming into contact with each other or staff indoors, she said.
From Saturday it will be against the law to drink alcohol outdoors in public in all level four areas, for example buying a takeaway pint and drinking it outdoors will not be permitted, said Miss Sturgeon.
‘I know this is not a popular move but it is intended to underline and support the fact that we should only be leaving home right now for essential purposes – that includes exercise or recreation but it does not include simple socialising.’
Strengthening the obligation on employers to allow staff to work from home whenever possible. ‘The law already says we should only be leaving home to go to work if it is work that cannot be done from home – this is a legal obligation that falls on individuals,’ she said. Statutory guidance will be published to make it clear to employers that they must support their staff to work from home wherever possible.
‘If you’re staff were working from home during the first lockdown last year – they should be working from home now and you should be facilitating that,’ she said.
WORK INSIDE HOMES
Strengthening provision for work carried out inside people’s houses to put the ‘guidance’ previously issued into law to help with enforcement. Work inside private dwellings in level four areas should only be allowed if it is essential for the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household, she said.
There will also be an amendment to the regulation requiring people to stay at home. This is to close an apparent loophole ‘rather than change the spirit of the law’.
She said: ‘Right now the law states that people can only leave home for an essential purpose, however, having left home for an essential purpose someone could then stay out of their home to do something that is not essential without breaching the law as it stands.
‘The amendment will make it clear that people must not leave or remain outside the home unless for an essential purpose – to provide legal clarity in the case of any enforcement.’
THE COVID-19 CASELOAD
She revealed that in the last 24 hours a further 79 people have died – bringing the total number of deaths in Scotland with confirmed Covid to more than 5,100.
The virus has been implicated in as many as 7,774 deaths in Scotland where it has been suspected as a contributory factor leading to a person’s death.
A total of 1,794 people are in hospital, she said, a rise of 77 on yesterday.
A total of 134 patients are in intensive care – up one on yesterday.
More than 1,000 patients were admitted to hospitals across Scotland during the first week of January, she said.
The new variant of Covid is now present in 60 per cent of cases which had led the cabinet to propose further restrictions, she added.