Scotland will go back into lockdown from December 26th – and planned easing of restrictions at Christmas have been scrapped, Nicola Sturgeon has said
The Scottish first minister said the measures were necessary to combat the new strain of coronavirus.
The Christmas 'bubble' policy has been scrapped, with household mixing only allowed on Christmas Day.
Measures had been set to ease across the UK between December 23rd and 27th.
A ban on travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK – except for essential purpose – will remain, with Ms Sturgeon saying she will speak to police and transport operators to see how this can be “strengthened”.
All of Scotland will enter Level 4 – the toughest of the county’s five tiers of restrictions – for three weeks from one minute after midnight on St Stephen's Day morning.
Non-essential shops will close as will cafes, restaurants and hairdressers.
Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and other Island communities will move to Level 3.
Schools will open for keyworkers as normal, but the majority of pupils will not return on January 11th, with online learning until at least January 18th.
The first minister said the move will prevent more of the new strain entering Scotland from other parts of the UK and reduce the risk of it spreading within the country.
The new strain of the virus is the “most serious and potentially dangerous juncture” faced since the start of the pandemic, she said.
She said 17 cases of the new strain had been identified in Scotland and may be driving faster transmission of Covid in some hospitals and care homes.
Without acting firmly, the new strain could lead to the NHS being overwhelmed and more people dying from the virus, she said.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has already announced the south east of England will be moved into a new Tier 4 – effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.
The rest of England will also see the Christmas 'bubble' policy – allowing up to three household to meet up over the holiday period – severely curtailed, applying on Christmas Day only.
Scotland has the lowest case rate in the UK, with 112.6 cases per 100,000 of the population.
This compares with 571.7 in Wales, 219.6 in England and 174.9 in Northern Ireland.
In the past 24 hours, 41 deaths from coronavirus and 572 positive tests have been recorded north of the border, though the test positivity rate fell from 4.2 per cent to 4.0 per cent.