The Scottish Government “cannot rule out” imposing greater restrictions if the spike in coronavirus cases continues, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The first minister announced today that current restrictions will not be lifted as part of the government’s three-weekly review.
Addressed a virtual meeting of the Scottish Parliament today, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland’s position remains “precarious” as it battles to stop the spread of the virus.
She said: “This is a critical moment and our position is precarious. That demands tough decisions from government, even if those decisions are understandably unwelcome.
“It also demands a willingness on the part of each and every one of us to act in ways that will hinder the virus rather than help it spread.
“Although we have put in place tough measures, we cannot rule out having to go further in the future.”
New regulations to expand the legal use of face coverings will come into force tomorrow.
These will exempt couples who are getting married from wearing face masks during their wedding or civil partnership ceremony.
Work canteens will be also be brought into line with rules for restaurants and cafes, meaning everyone will have to wear a face covering when not seated at a table.
Masks will also have to be worn in communal work areas from Monday.
The first minister said: “The new rules are a proportionate additional step which will help employees keep themselves and their colleagues that bit safer.”
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Tough new restrictions on the hospitality sector were introduced in Scotland last week and Ms Sturgeon sounded a note of warning to businesses that things will not go back to “complete normality” when these end later this month.
She said: “The regulations are due to expire on October 26 but it is important to stress that given the ongoing challenge of Covid, that will not herald a return to complete normality.
“The restrictions on household gatherings, for example, will remain in place until it is considered safe to ease them.
“And more generally, we intend to replace the temporary restrictions with a new strategic approach to managing the pandemic.”
Will Scotland follow Wales’s lead over border controls?
New restrictions put in place by the Welsh Government on Wednesday which would stop travel from high prevalence areas in different parts of the UK from travelling to the country could be mirrored in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said.
She added: “As we consider these issues, plan future steps and where necessary, take emergency action, we will seek to ensure that parliament is fully informed and involved in these decisions.”
Finishing her virtual statement on an optimistic note, the first minister asked the people of Scotland to “be kinder to each other”.
She said: “Look out for people, offer help if you can.
“This pandemic is something we are all living through and we are all finding it hard.
“So let’s try to help each other as much as we possibly can.
“I know it can sound cliched but I make no apology for saying that love, kindness and solidarity are more important now than ever before.”