A ban on drinking alcohol outdoors in public in areas of Scotland under lockdown and further restrictions on takeaways are among stricter Covid-19 rules announced by Nicola Sturgeon.
Reducing which shops can offer click and collect services, strengthening the law requiring staff to work from home and closing a loophole in the stay-at-home order are among other changes, all of which will come into effect on Saturday.
The First Minister said the lockdown for mainland Scotland and some island areas which began on January 5 appears to be having an effect.
However she warned against complacency, as she confirmed 79 more deaths of confirmed coronavirus patients were registered in the past 24 hours along with 1,949 new cases.
She also said it is “heart-breaking” that the death toll of people with confirmed or suspected coronavirus has now risen above 7,000.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament at the start of First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said drinking alcohol in public outdoors in all Level 4 areas of Scotland will be banned.
Scots will also be barred from entering hospitality businesses for takeaway services, meaning all sales of food or drink must take place outside the premises.
Click and collect services will be limited to retailers selling essentials, such as clothing, baby equipment and books.
For those allowed to continue collection services, Ms Sturgeon said “staggered appointments” will be needed to end queuing, and people will no longer be allowed inside.
Statutory guidance will be introduced urging employers to support workers to remain at home “wherever possible”, the First Minister announced.
Separately, guidance previously issued to only allow essential work to be undertaken inside people’s homes will be placed into law.
Ms Sturgeon confirmed coronavirus regulations will change to forbid people from leaving home for an essential purpose and then doing something considered not to be essential after they have left the house.
While the list of essential reasons for leaving home will not change, she said: “It does mean that if the police challenge you for being out of the house doing something that is not essential, it will not be a defence to say you initially left the house to do something that was essential.”
Ms Sturgeon urged Scots to adhere to the spirit, not just the letter, of the lockdown law, saying: “Don’t think in terms of the maximum interactions you can have without breaking the rules.
“Think instead about how you minimise your interactions to the bare essentials to remove as many opportunities as possible for the virus to spread.
“In everything you do, assume that the virus is there with you – that either you have it or any person you are in contact with has it – and act in a way that prevents it passing between you.
Our message to Scotland is to #StayAtHome.
You should now only leave the house for essential reasons like:
✔ Getting food or medicines✔ Any medical need✔ Exercise
By following these rules you’re saving lives.
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) January 4, 2021
“All of this means staying at home except for genuinely essential purposes – including working from home whenever possible.
“Except for essential purposes, do not have people from other households in your house and do not go into theirs.”
Giving a further update on the daily coronavirus statistics, she said a total of 155,372 people have tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.
There are 1,794 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, up 77 in 24 hours. Of these patients, 134 are in intensive care – a rise of one in the same period.