Mainland Scotland is to go into lockdown from midnight tonight with a new legal requirement forbidding anyone from leaving their home except for essential purposes.
Amongst the limited reasonable excuses to leave your home are provisions for caring, outdoor exercise and to go to work, but only if that work cannot be done from home.
In a statement to Parliament, the First Minister said a steep increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and the intensity of pressure on the NHS have created a race between the virus and the vaccines now coming online.
As a result, she said it was now imperative that everyone should comply with the message to “Stay at Home” for the duration of January.
The First Minister said:
“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.
“As a government our clear duty right now is to act quickly and decisively to safeguard health, save lives and protect the NHS.
“The advice of our clinical advisers is very clear that the increased transmissibility of the new variant means that the current level 4 measures may not be sufficient to bring the R number back below 1.
“It is essential that we further limit interaction between different households to stem the spread and bring the situation back under control, while we vaccinate more people.
“In short, we must return for a period to a situation much closer to the lockdown of last March.”
In the week from 23 to 30 December the seven-day incidence of cases per 100,000 of the population increased by 65% – from 136 to 225.
The new measures will make it a legal requirement to stay at home unless there is a reasonable excuse for leaving such as essential shopping, education, childcare or to support the vulnerable. Everyone must now work from home where they can.
Other key changes include:
Changing the 6/2 rule to a 2/2 rule.
From tomorrow, a maximum of two people from up to two households will be able to meet outdoors.
Children aged 11 and under will not be counted in that limit.
For everyone else – including 12 to 17-year olds – outdoor exercise or recreation should only take place in a way which is consistent with the 2/2 rule.
Under 12s will not count towards the 2/2 rule and will continue to be able to participate in organised activities outdoors.
All schools to continue to use remote learning until the end of January, except in the case of vulnerable children and those of key workers.
Stronger guidance on working from home is reflected in new guidance for people who are shielding.
Those who are shielding and who cannot work from home are now advised not to work.
The Chief Medical Officer is writing to everyone who falls into this category.
The First Minister also told parliament that from Friday, 8 January a number of other measures will be taken including:
Closing places of worship.
Since stay-at-home rules do not allow leaving the home to attend a place of worship for a service or for private prayer, these would be closed for all purposes other than broadcasting a service, or conducting a funeral, marriage or civil partnership ceremony.
Reducing numbers allowed at a wedding ceremony or civil partnership registration to the legal minimum, i.e. 5 plus the possibility of an interpreter.
Prohibiting wakes and post-funeral gatherings, so that only funerals and any associated ceremonies (stone settings, ash scatterings, etc.) can take place.
Closing some additional premises, service providers and retailers.
This would include showroom elements of larger retailers and ski centres.
Ending the 1m physical distancing exemption for workplace canteens.
The restrictions are expected to be in place for at least four weeks, but will be kept under review.