Nicola Sturgeon urges Scots to stay at home for Christmas

PA Scotland Reporters
·4-min read

Scots should stay in their own homes at Christmas, Nicola Sturgeon has urged.

If people feel it is “essential” to meet with others indoors, she said this should be for one day only and not overnight.

Scotland’s First Minister said her Government intends to issue strengthened guidance on Christmas coronavirus regulation relaxations later on Wednesday and hopes this will have been agreed UK-wide.

She said governments across the UK do “not intend to take away the flexibility” over Christmas, where coronavirus restrictions have been relaxed to allow up to eight people from three households to meet between December 23 and 27.

SCOTLAND Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

The First Minister told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing: “That in my view wouldn’t be fair at this stage and wouldn’t be realistic either and may risk undermining, rather than strengthening, compliance with the overall Covid guidance.”

But she said the Scottish Government would strengthen its guidance to people on “whether and how they make use of the flexibility”.

Ms Sturgeon later confirmed she had put her name to joint guidance about Christmas with the UK Government and Welsh Government.

She outlined principles the Scottish Government is working to, stressing these have not yet been agreed across the UK.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Firstly and unequivocally, the safest way to spend Christmas this year for you and for those you love is to stay within your own household and your own home.

“My strong recommendation is this is what you should do if at all possible.”

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said people should stay in their own homes this Christmas (Andrew Milligan/PA)

She said any mixing with other households should take place outside, if possible, but if it is “essential” to meet indoors, people should limit the time of that meeting and the numbers involved as much as possible.

Ms Sturgeon recommended those people forming a Christmas bubble should only meet up with people on one day, if possible, and not stay overnight “unless it is unavoidable”.

She stressed the need to limit numbers, saying: “In short, if you have to form a bubble, keep it as small as possible.”

The First Minister went on to say the Scottish Government recommends against travel from areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus to parts of the country with a lower prevalence.

She added: “If you haven’t made plans to form a bubble, please don’t.

“If you are still swithering, please decide against. And if you have made plans but think they are not really essential, please think about postponing until later in the year.

“The reality is that this Christmas simply can’t be normal. But we have every reason to hope that next year’s will be much more normal.”

She said the four nations talks were called “because in parts of the UK cases are rising again, and in some parts of the UK rising quite rapidly”.

Case levels in Scotland are “lower than in other nations” currently, Ms Sturgeon added, but she stressed the need to consider the “evolving situation”.

Scotland recorded 689 new cases in the past 24 hours, she announced, and 38 deaths of people who first tested positive for the virus in the previous 28 days, taking this total to 4,173.

Ms Sturgeon also highlighted other figures published on Wednesday indicating 6,092 people in Scotland have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 as of Sunday.

Dr Lewis Morrison, chairman of BMA Scotland, said: “The relaxation of rules should be seen as the absolute maximum of what you should be looking to do over Christmas.

“While the rules themselves may not be changing, there is still plenty of chance to consider your plans and either adjust them in line with advice or stick to the limited plans you had in place.

“The decisions we all make will have direct consequences on how large a rise in cases we see in January, and as a result how our NHS is able to cope.”