Younger Scots have been urged to consider cutting back on nights out and go to the pub less often following a rise in coronavirus cases among people aged between 20 and 40.
Nicola Sturgeon said revellers should think twice about how often it was necessary to go out on the tiles after data revealed people in their 20s and 30s had accounted for around half of new laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases over the past week.
The first minister said there had been 30 new positive tests overnight – the highest number in more than eight weeks – and warned the figures were a cause for concern, with other countries also seeing a surge in infection rates among young people.
“That’s something we’ve seen in other parts of the world recently – younger age groups, perhaps people more likely to go to pubs and restaurants and meet up with friends, are testing positive in higher numbers,” she said.
“These figures should be a reason for caution. I urge everyone, particularly people in their 20s and 30s, not to be complacent and to please follow all the rules.”
Speaking during a briefing organised at short notice on Friday, Ms Sturgeon urged people to “stick rigidly” to Scottish Government advice and warned nobody can “safely get Covid”, despite the disease causing more fatalities among older people.
She continued: “For those activities which we are now allowed to do, like going to pubs indoors, I’d ask you think how necessary these nights out are and how frequently you might want to go on them.”
The rules on indoor meetings apply in pubs and restaurants, so people should not be meeting more than two other households at a time, Ms Sturgeon said.
“I’m not saying absolutely don’t go. But there is a need for all of right now to think about the wisdom of things that we’re doing,” she added.
“Just because something is allowed doesn’t mean we should do it as often as we would have done it pre-Covid.”
The SNP leader suggested people in their 20s should consider going to the pub less often but said it would ultimately come down to “individual judgement”.
She also used the briefing to discuss a tightening of lockdown restrictions in northern England following a spike in coronavirus cases.
Travel between Scotland and parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire facing new lockdown restrictions should only be undertaken if “absolutely essential”, the Scottish Government has said.
Anyone currently in the affected areas does not need to return to Scotland early but should be “extra vigilant” in monitoring for symptoms and follow existing guidance both during their stay and when they return come.
Ms Sturgeon chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee earlier in the day to discuss an update from the prime minister on the decision to introduce new measures to control the spread of Covid-19 in the affected areas.
She “strongly advised” anyone travelling to areas affected in the north of England, or anyone planning to travel to Scotland from the same areas, to cancel their plans.
Those returning have been advised to “minimise contact” with other households for 14 days, avoid indoor hospitality, such as pubs and restaurants, and be extra vigilant in monitoring for symptoms – but do not need to self-isolate completely.
Ms Sturgeon acknowledged the timing of her announcement was difficult with many families from Muslim communities planning to travel around the country this weekend to celebrate Eid.