Scots have been told that their lives cannot cannot carry on as normal and to adapt to a “new world” as the coronavirus pandemic takes hold.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood issued stark warnings in a press conference on Monday morning as the country’s covid-19 death toll reached 14.
Mrs Sturgeon told shops not to open unless they are selling “essential items” and told other businesses to close or make employees work from home if social distancing is not possible.
It comes as Dr Calderwood warned that the latest figures did not represent the true scale of covid-19’s spread across Scotland – warning that thousands may already be infected.
Mrs Sturgeon told Scots: “Life cannot be carrying on as normal right now, but life should not feel normal for you right now. If it is, you are not doing the right thing.
“The vast majority of people are making a very serious effort to limit (infection).”
She added: “It is with sadness I also have to report today four other deaths of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths now to 14.
“These figures underline the scale of the challenge that we face as a country to slow down the spread, reduce the peak and crucially save lives.
“If you have symptoms of coronavirus you must isolate yourself for seven days. In addition if you are in a household with someone they must isolate for 14 days.
“For everyone you must stay at home unless essential to go out. Stay away from crowded places. When other people around, stay 2m distance from them.”
She said these tougher measures are needed to slow down the “rapid acceleration of this virus”.
She also warned business who are not complying with the new guidance – which has seen restaurants, cafes, pubs and other businesses close – that the Scottish Government is being handed “emergency powers and will use them”.
She said these will be in effect “within days”.
Mrs Sturgeon said: “The majority of shops have taken the decision to close. My message today is if you are not providing essential items like food and medicines then please also close now.”
She also told employees across Scotland who have been asked to go to work as normal to speak to their boss and asked them to “take action” if they feel uncomfortable in the workplace.
She also advised building sites and hairdressers to close.
Mrs Sturgeon said: “Today it has been clear to me there are still too many people who are expected to or are expecting to go to work as normal. That presents a serious and unnecessary risk of spreading the virus.
“If you run a business and the nature of the business makes it difficult for you or your workers to work from home, or to practise safe social distancing, then you should close for the period of the efforts to combat this virus.
“I know this is a difficult situation for businesses and I know difficult judgments are having to be made.
“I have therefore asked for additional guidance to be drawn up urgently by government for businesses which will make clear exactly what we are expecting of them.
“The UK Government has put in place measures to pay wages, even when workers are not at work, and we are pushing for and very hopeful of seeing very soon further measures to support freelancers, the self-employed and contract workers.”
Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said up to 14,000 people could now be infected in Scotland.
She said: “These 14 deaths probably each represent up to 1000 people who have become infected.
“We have 23 people currently in our ICUs currently across Scotland who have coronavirus and each of them represents probably 400-500 other people who will have become infected in the course of their illness.”
She said that community surveillance across the country is going to give health experts a more “accurate picture” of the spread of the disease.
Dr Calderwood added: “The measures we have talked about are hard and life-changing. The people that you interact with if they give you coronaviurus you will pass that on to the members of your household.
“You are risking actually infecting people you spend most time with, the people you love, your friends, your families, your elderly relatives.
“So when people are mixing outside their families they really need to be absolutely sure those interactions are absolutely worth the risk they are taking.”
She said the new measures are expected to last up to three months.
She said people should still go out to exercise “once a day” – but not to mingle with other people when doing so.
Dr Calderwood added: “We are really in this for a marathon. We are going to have to adapt to life in this new world.”