First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned there will be no return to normality when temporary restrictions are due to come to an end at the end of the month.
The First Minister said temporary restrictions in place until October 25 would be replaced by a strategic “tiered” approach to managing the coronavirus pandemic.
Her announcement comes as NHS Grampian recorded its highest number of positive cases in a single day last week, since beginning to take a daily record at the start of the pandemic.
The health board logged a total of 67 cases on Friday, October 9 – the largest number of cases which have been reported in a single day, prompting officials at NHS Grampian to urge residents to make sure they are adhering to social distancing regulations.
In a virtual statement to Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon announced that the wearing of face coverings was about to become mandatory in staff canteens and communal work areas like corridors.
Ms Sturgeon also said she was looking at legal underpinning to potential restrictions to travel across the Anglo/Scottish border as 13 deaths and 1,351 positive cases were recorded in the last 24 hours.
She added that it was “important to stress” that given the “ongoing challenge” of Covid the date would “not herald a return to normality”.
“The restrictions on household gatherings, for example, will remain in place until it is considered safe to ease them,” the First Minister said.
Ms Sturgeon went on say the temporary restrictions would be replaced with her “new strategic approach” to managing the pandemic.
She admitted the restrictions were “tough” but was unable to rule out having to tighten them in the future, and said “love, kindness and solidarity” were more important than ever as the country was in a “precarious” position.
The new strategic approach will set out different tiers or levels of restrictions that can be applied nationwide or locally.
Ms Sturgeon said the new approach would be debated at Holyrood and would include measures to increase compliance with self-isolation as well as future projections of daily testing capacity. The framework is expected to include measures such as routine testing for those caring for people based at home.
From this Friday staff canteens will come into line with pubs and restaurants in terms of face coverings, with masks to be worn when not seated at a table; for example, when queuing or going to the toilet.
From Monday, face coverings will also have to be worn in communal areas at work like corridors. Couples taking part in weddings or civil partnerships, however, would be exempt from face coverings.
Ms Sturgeon also said she was looking carefully at the restrictions brought in around travel to Wales, and said: “I think there is an argument, and we have to keep it under consideration both within Scotland and in terms of travel to and from Scotland from other parts of the UK, about making it more regulated and having a legal underpinning and that’s what we are considering at the moment.”
NHS Grampian recorded its highest number of positive cases in a single day last week with a total of 67 cases on Friday, October 9.
During the peak of the pandemic early on in lockdown in April, the highest number of positive cases recorded within the NHS Grampian area was 62.
This also compares to a high of 39 cases while Aberdeen was in stricter localised lockdown measures, following an outbreak within bars.
A statement from NHS Grampian said: “Daily case numbers now exceed 1,000.
“If the virus was spread evenly, we in Grampian might expect to have daily case numbers in excess of 100. In fact, our worst day so far was last Friday when 67 cases were reported to the Case Management System.
“Everyone in Grampian really needs to pay strict attention to all the guidance around prevention that should by now be well known.
“If there is one issue that stands out in the recent increase in cases it is the lack of physical distancing. If we are to keep the virus under control in Grampian it is this aspect of prevention that needs to be better practiced.”
Contact tracing will also change nationally, with close contacts who have provided a mobile number to be text instead of contacted by phone call, in the hope that it will decrease the workload on contact tracers.
It is hoped however that it will not reduce the level of compliance with self-isolation advice.
A further 39 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the north-east yesterday.
A total of 1,351 people have tested positive for Covid-19 across Scotland during the same time period.
The latest update from the Scottish Government shows the number of positive cases since the outbreak began has risen to 44,036.
The new cases represent 17.6% of newly tested individuals.
A total of 601 people are in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 and 51 of those are receiving treatment in intensive care.
Thirteen new coronavirus-linked deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 879,348 people in Scotland have been tested. Of these people, 835,312 were confirmed negative.
A regional breakdown of the data shows there have been 39 new cases in Grampian. The north-east’s total is now 2,855.