People in Shetland will be unable to visit other households as part of new measures announced by the First Minister to reduce Covid-19 transmission today.
Nicola Sturgeon said it was the “most difficult” part of today’s announcement – but she hoped that by taking early action it would help bring the virus under control.
The restrictions, which come into force tomorrow, replicate measures already introduced across the west of Scotland to tackle localised increases in the virus.
Ms Sturgeon said early data suggested it had started to slow the increase in the west – and that by taking “difficult decisions now” she hoped it would be possible to reduce the R number across the country.
Other measures included a 10pm closure for pubs and restaurants, which comes into force on Friday. It follows similar restrictions announced by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s in Parliament earlier today.
Ms Sturgeon said it was a “difficult balance” to strike and if the Scottish government had more financial control it may have taken stronger action around the opening of hospitality venues.
However she warned that further restrictions would be “unavoidable” without full compliance.
Ms Sturgeon also addressed leaked Scottish government documents detailing plans for a so-called “circuit-breaker” – a more comprehensive set of restrictions for the October holidays.
Ms Sturgeon said that while the Scottish government had not made any decision to implement the policy, “we are actively keeping it under review”.
She called on folk to use the October break as an opportunity to reduce social interactions.
In particular, she told people not to book overseas travel in the October holidays – a time that is often popular with Shetland folk seeking to get away before winter.
While Mr Johnson warned earlier today that the restrictions could last six months, Ms Sturgeon was keen to stress that was not her intention.
She said that by acting “quickly and substantially” the measures could be in place for less time than if the government waited longer.
The First Minister said the restrictions were “tough” – but did not represent the full scale lockdown such as the one introduced in March.
While she said case numbers had continued to climb and were ow affecting wider age groups, leading to hospitalisation, Ms Sturgeon said the collective efforts over the summer meant the virus was starting from a lower level and rising less rapidly that it could have been .
But with the R number possibly as high as 1.4 and intensive care admissions beginning to rise, she said “we cannot and must not be complacent”.
Ms Sturgeon also reinforced previous messages on people to work from home if possible.
She called on businesses to “rethink” any decisions taken that may have seen people return to the office and said legal meaures could be introeuced requiring home working if possible.
The First Minister also reiterated the importance of the FACTS advice around face coverings, avoiding crowded places, cleaning hands, keeping two metres distance and for folk to self-isolate and booking a test if showing symptoms.
She said people being asked to self-isolated would be offered greater support, including £500 for those on low incomes.
Exceptions to the restrictions on households meeting up apply for single person households, non cohabiting couples, childcare and tradespeople. The restrictions will also be reviewed every three weeks.
People can still meet in public indoor spaces, with the same restrictions of six people and two households, as well as outdoors.
Under 12s have been exempted from the limits out outdoor gatherings, meaning there is no limitation on the number of young children who can play together.
Young people under 18 can also meet up in groups of six without limitation on the number of households – but this applies to outdoor s only.
Ms Sturgeon told teenagers she understood how miserable the situation was and paid her gratitude for their patience.
“Please work with us and do your best to stick to the rules,” she added.