Sturgeon confirms Covid restrictions extended amid record number of cases

29 December 2021, 20:41 | Updated: 29 December 2021, 20:45

Scotland has reached a new daily record of Covid infections.
Scotland has reached a new daily record of Covid infections. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Covid restrictions in Scotland will remain in place for three more weeks due to a record number of daily infections causing increased concern.

Scotland saw a record-high of 15,849 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the First Minister confirmed on Wednesday.

She warned that the expected wave of Omicron infections was rapidly developing, with a further steep rise in cases is expected for the days and possibly weeks ahead.

As a result, restrictions on hospitality, events and retail are expected to be kept in place until January 17.

Speaking to MSPs, Ms Sturgeon said: "Given the speed and extent of transmission now, it is vital that we continue to take sensible precautions and limit social interactions for a further period, as we learn more about the likely impact of this wave of infection and complete the booster programme."

Read more: Sturgeon says 'stay at home as much as possible' and imposes strict limits on event crowds

Read more: New restrictions in Scotland and Northern Ireland come into force with all eyes on PM

Updated rules on social gatherings came into force on Monday, with meetings limited to three households at indoor and outdoor venues such as bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas.

On Boxing Day, restrictions were brought in to ensure one-metre physical distancing at large events, with limits of 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Over Hogmanay and New Year's Day, and for at least the first week in January, we are advising everyone to stay at home more than normal, to reduce contacts with people outside our own households, and to limit the size of any indoor social gatherings that do take place so that they don't include people from any more than three households."

She said she hoped to reach a decision on any shortening of the isolation period requirement for household contacts of cases "in the next week", with any changes taking effect from January 5.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has said no new restrictions for England will be introduced before the New Year.

He urged Brits to be "sensible" following reports that people may attempt to escape Scottish and Welsh Covid restrictions by travelling to England to celebrate.

Mr Johnson said: "I think everybody should enjoy new year but in a cautious and sensible way.

"Take a test, ventilation, think about others but above all get a booster."