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Scotland coronavirus lockdown: Nicola Sturgeon announces new nationwide confinement from midnight

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Nicola Sturgeon announced the latest measures on Monday
Nicola Sturgeon announced the latest measures on Monday   -   Copyright  Alastair Grant/AP
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Scotland will go into another coronavirus lockdown from midnight tonight until the end of January, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The Scottish first minister revealed the latest measures to parliament on Monday as she said she felt "more concern" over the current COVID-19 situation compared with the first peak in March.

She added that Scotland was also around four weeks behind that of the trajectory in London and the south-east of England - saying it would take around this amount of time to overwhelm health services.

Under the new rules, Scots will be required to stay at home for everything except "essential reasons" such as shopping and exercise.

Two people from two households will still be able to meet outdoors and funerals and weddings will be permitted to go ahead.

Places of worship, meanwhile, will be closed from Friday.

"It is essential that we further limit interaction between different households to stem the spread and bring the situation back under control, while we vaccinate more people," Sturgeon said.

"In short, we must return for a period to a situation much closer to the lockdown of last March."

Steve Parsons/AP
Brian Pinker was the first person to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on MondaySteve Parsons/AP

The UK is continuing to struggle in the face of a new variant of COVID-19 that is more transmissible than others.

Referring to this variant, Sturgeon said it was a "massive blow" to Scotland as she compared the spread of the disease to vaccinations.

"In one lane we have vaccines - and our job is to make sure they can run as fast as possible. That’s why the government will be doing everything we can to vaccinate people as quickly as possible," she said.

"But in the other lane is the virus which - as a result of this new variant - has just learned to run much faster and has most definitely picked up pace in the past couple of weeks. To ensure that the vaccine wins the race, it is essential to speed up vaccination as far as possible.

"But to give it the time it needs to get ahead, we must also slow the virus down."

The UK has recorded six consecutive days of the number of infections surpassing 50,000, which also comes off the back of a week of daily records being shattered.

On Monday, Sturgeon said Scotland had recorded another 1,905 cases, meaning 15% of COVID-19 tests were returning with positive results.

She said intensive care units were also feeling the strain as they were above usual winter levels, while some hospitals were quickly running out of beds.

"NHS Ayrshire and Arran is currently at 96% of its COVID capacity," she said, adding: "And three other health boards - Borders, Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Lanarkshire - are above 60% of their capacity."

Boris Johnson warned on Monday that "tougher measures" could be expected soon in England, confirming he would be making a televised address to the nation at 9pm CET.

Large swathes of England are currently under Tier 4 - the strictest tier available under the system - and advises people to stay at home and for non-essential businesses to close.

"We will do everything we can to keep the virus under control and people should be in no doubt that the government will do everything that's necessary," the UK prime minister said.

"But I must stress at this critical moment it is so vital that people keep disciplined."