Scots told to stay at home as lockdown sees schools closed till February

Mainland Scotland is being placed back in lockdown, with schools across the country ordered to stay closed, as part of "devastating" restrictions to try to combat the new, faster spreading strain of Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The First Minister stressed the need to act "quickly and decisively" as she said without new measures being introduced hospitals could run out of capacity to deal with coronavirus patients in three to four weeks.

She announced a legally-enforceable stay-at-home order will apply for all of January in all areas currently under Level 4 restrictions – mainland Scotland and Skye.

People will only be permitted to leave their home for an "essential purpose", such as essential shopping, caring for someone or if they are part of an extended household.

In addition to this, schools will be closed to most pupils until February 1 at the earliest – meaning an additional two weeks of home learning for youngsters.

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A person wearing a face covering walks passed a mural in Glasgow, as stricter lockdown measures have came into force for mainland Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A shopper walks past a sign that reads "Virus Control Zone" on a fence in Edinburgh, as stricter lockdown measures have came into force for mainland Scotland. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
A member of the public walks passed a coronavirus related advert on a bus stop in Glasgow , where strict lockdown measures for mainland Scotland are in force. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A person wearing a face covering walks passed an advert in Glasgow advertising takeaways, as stricter lockdown measures have came into force for mainland Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 04: Members of the public walk through a deserted Edinburgh City Centre on January 4, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Scottish Parliament will be recalled this afternoon to consider further coronavirus measure in an attempt to tackle the rapid increase in cases. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Advanced nurse practitioner Justine Williams (L) administers a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to 82-year-old James Shaw, the first person in Scotland to receive the vaccination, at the Lochee Health Centre in Dundee on January 4, 2021. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 04: Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon reacts as she delivers a statement at Holyrood, Edinburgh, announcing that Scotland will be placed in lockdown from midnight for the duration of January with a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes on January 4, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
People walk passed Coronavirus related posters on a wall in Glasgow after severe lockdown restrictions were announced for December and January with all of the country moving into the highest level of lockdown from Boxing Day. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
George Street, Edinburgh in Scotland, where Covid-19 restrictions have been increased for three weeks from today in response to a new strain of the virus. Mainland Scotland is now in Level 4 the toughest tier and the islands have moved to Level 3. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
A person wearing a face covering walks passed as shop in Glasgow, Scotland where severe lockdown restrictions have been announced for December and January with most of the country moving into the highest level of lockdown from Boxing Day. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A member of the public wearing a face covering and a Christmas tree style hat shopping on Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Scotland where severe lockdown restrictions have been announced for December and January with most of the country moving into the highest level of lockdown from Boxing Day. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Shoppers in Glasgow which has moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of coronavirus restrictions. Cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers will be able to reopen from Friday and Saturday as restrictions are eased in the eleven Scottish council areas placed in Level 4 on November 20. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
A shopper wearing a protective face mask walks past a shop sign that read "Bring On 2021" in Edinburgh city centre. Scotland is currently using a tier system to try and drive down coronavirus cases. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Tattoo artist Nikki Hilton from Heaven n Hell tattoo studios in Falkirk with client Ashley Mcara as Scotland continues with the gradual lifting of restrictions to ease out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 15: Yvonne Smith, the first customer at Taylor Ferguson hairdressing since the country went into lockdown in March, has her hair styled by Tammy NcCreadie on July 15, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Scotland has begun its most significant relaxation of coronavirus measures, which sees the opening of hair salons, barbers along with hotels,cafes, bars and restaurants. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Shoppers in Glasgow which has moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of coronavirus restrictions. Cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers will be able to reopen from Friday and Saturday as restrictions are eased in the eleven Scottish council areas placed in Level 4 on November 20. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Graffiti that reads "Covid 19 World Tour" in Edinburgh city centre after a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases came into place in Scotland. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 21: Members of the public are seen on Princess Street on October 21, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the Scottish Government is planning to introduce a new five -tier coronavirus lockdown system from November 2. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 21: Members of the public are seen on Cockburn Street on October 21, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the Scottish Government is planning to introduce a new five -tier coronavirus lockdown system from November 2. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 17: Rangers manager Steven Gerrard during a Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park, on October 17, 2020, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 15: A man wears a face mask as he walks past a store with a closing down sale sign in the window on October 15, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said that people from parts of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with high rates of Covid-19 infection would be banned from traveling to Wales starting Friday. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Leah McCallum (left) and Rebecca Ross, S4 students at St Columba's High School, Gourock, put on their protective face masks as the requirement for secondary school pupils to wear face coverings when moving around school comes into effect from today across Scotland. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 31: Lyndsey Roberts, Strong Like a Mutha company founder teaches gym members during a fitness class on August 31, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Indoor gyms and pools were closed for almost 24 weeks due to lockdown measures meant to curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 31: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets staff during a visit to the Sighthill NHS Community Treatment and Assessment Centre on August 31, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
A soldier from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards collects Covid tests from people at a mobile testing facility in Stirling as Scotland continues with the gradual lifting of restrictions.. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 26: Ground atff wipe down the crossbar during the Champions League Second Round qualifying match between Celtic and Ferencvaros at Celtic Park on August 26, 2020, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)
Members of the public in the bingo hall at MECCA Bingo in Glasgow, as Scotland continues with the gradual lifting of restrictions for bowling alleys, bingo halls and casinos to ease out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sally Jeffrey visitor attraction assistant at the Wallace Monument cleans the case which houses William Wallace sword in the Hall of Arms room at the monument near Stirling as they prepare to re-open as Scotland continues with the gradual lifting of restrictions. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 12: Pupils wear masks as they return to St Paul's High School for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown nearly five months ago on August 12, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Pupils will return to more of Scotland's schools today, as the fallout continues from the government’s decision to upgrade exam results. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Members of the public in the bingo hall at MECCA Bingo in Glasgow, as Scotland continues with the gradual lifting of restrictions for bowling alleys, bingo halls and casinos to ease out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Night manager Tam Main helps prepare refreshments for the special guests at the Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa in Inveraray, Argyll and Bute, as key workers received a "sanctuary weekend". (Photo by Robert Perry/PA Images via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 18: NHS nurses stage a protest outside Glasgow Royal Infirmary after being left out of a public sector pay rise on August 18, 2020 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. NHS staff across Scotland are protesting today demanding an early salary increase after they were not included in the government’s above-inflation coronavirus pay rise for public sector workers because of a three-year pay deal negotiated in 2018. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A crew member wears a face mask on board the Paddle steamer Waverley as it departs from Glasgow for a cruise along the River Clyde as she resumes sailings following the coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
GLASGOW - AUGUST 08: Nurses and other frontline NHS workers stage a protest Glasgow Green after being left out of a public sector pay rise on August 08, 2020 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. NHS staff across the UK are demanding an early salary increase after they were not included in the government’s above-inflation coronavirus pay rise for public sector workers because of a three-year pay deal negotiated in 2018. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 05: Two woman walk past closed shops on August 5, 2020 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acted swiftly and put Aberdeen back into lockdown after cases of Coronavirus in the city doubled in a day to 54. She ordered all indoor and outdoor hospitality venues to close by 5pm. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 05: Kieth McKenzie wears a shielding face mask as he prepares to close the pub The Grill in Union Street on August 5, 2020 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acted swiftly and put Aberdeen back into lockdown after cases of Coronavirus in the city doubled in a day to 54. She ordered all indoor and outdoor hospitality venues to close by 5pm. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 12: Pupils wear masks as they return to St Paul's High School for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown nearly five months ago on August 12, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Pupils will return to more of Scotland's schools today, as the fallout continues from the government’s decision to upgrade exam results. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 01: Steven Gerrard, Manager of Rangers FC wears a face mask as he looks on from the stands during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Aberdeen and Rangers at Pittodrie Stadium on August 01, 2020 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Willie Vass/Pool via Getty Images)
PAISLEY, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 01: Livingston's Lyndon Dykes has his temperature read ahead of the Scottish Premiership match between St Mirren and Livingston at the Simple Digital Arena on August 01, 2020, in Paisley, Scotland. (Alan Harvey / SNS Group / Getty Images)
Caitlin Morrow from BE Schoolwear in Falkirk puts a school uniform on a mannequin in their store after it was announced by the Scottish Government schools will return full time in August as Scotland continues with the gradual lifting of restrictions to ease out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 05: A pedestrian walks on an empty street on August 5, 2020 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acted swiftly and put Aberdeen back into lockdown after cases of Coronavirus in the city doubled in a day to 54. She ordered all indoor and outdoor hospitality venues to close by 5pm. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 05: Kieth McKenzie wears a shielding face mask as he works in the pub The Grill in Union Street on August 5, 2020 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acted swiftly and put Aberdeen back into lockdown after cases of Coronavirus in the city doubled in a day to 54. She ordered all indoor and outdoor hospitality venues to close by 5pm. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to Cold Town House in Edinburgh's Grassmarket, where she saw the changes in place to keep staff and customers safe in the outdoor hospitality industry, as Scotland continues with the gradual lifting of restrictions to ease out of lockdown.
A member of staff at the Apple store in Edinburgh's Princes Street takes the temperature of a customer before entering as non-essential stores across the country reopen today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Gary Gilmour wipes an entrance sign to Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling, Scotland, Sunday June 28, 2020, where staff are preparing to open the attraction on June 29. Animal parks are set to open along with some other businesses, as part of Scotland's phased release of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
A member of staff at the Apple store in Edinburgh's Princes Street takes the temperature of a customer before entering as non-essential stores across the country reopen today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Shoppers queue outside the Apple store in Edinburgh's Princes Street as non-essential stores across the country reopen today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
A member of staff at the Dr Martens shop in Edinburgh's Princes Street makes preparations as non-essential stores across the country reopen today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Shoppers along Edinburgh's Princes Street as non-essential stores across the country reopen today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Shoppers along Edinburgh's Princes Street as non-essential stores across the country reopen today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Members of the public view the lion reserve at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus lockdown.
A person in their car looks on as they make their way through the lion reserve at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus lockdown.
Zoo keepers feed the penguins as members of the public visit Edinburgh Zoo, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Staff direct traffic as they queue to enter Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus lockdown.
Members of staff at Primark on Princes Street in Edinburgh, welcome customers after the store reopened today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Police patrol alongside the queue outside the Primark store on Princes Street in Edinburgh, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon wears a Tartan face mask as she visits New Look at Ford Kinaird Retail Park in Edinburgh on June 26, 2020, as Scotland prepares for a further loosening of the COVID-19 lockdown, easing travel restrictions and allowing the re-opening of retailers. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JEFF J MITCHELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A meerkat next to a sign showing social distance measures at Edinburgh Zoo, as Scotland moves into the second phase of its four-step plan to ease out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Embargoed:not for publication before 0001 Friday June 26th. Maintenance engineer Barry Grant tapes off an area of the dock inside Courtroom Five at Glasgow Sheriff Court as social distance measures are shown following the announcement that Scotland will move to the second phase of its four-step plan to ease out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A hand-made sign alongside the A82 road in Glencoe, Highlands, as Scotland moves into the second phase of its four-step plan to ease out of lockdown. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JUNE 15: Shops in Edinburgh Princess Street, remain closed as the country enters week 13 of the coronavirus lockdown restriction on June 15, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. As non-essential shop reopen in England today, the trade association has called for the Scottish government to announce a opening date for retailers north of the border. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Steven Butterly from Azurablu Scotland Ltd during an electrostatic disinfection clean which follows a deep clean at Ross Sales and Lettings in Glasgow. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
The outside seating area at the Fountain Cafe & Bar in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens remains closed during lockdown. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 07: Black Lives Matter protest in Holyrood Park, despite a call by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and others to find other forms of protest because of lockdown rules and coronavirus fears on June 7, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JUNE 07: Protesters attend a Black Lives Matter demonstration against racism and police brutality, despite a call by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and others to find other forms of protest because of lockdown rules and coronavirus fears, in Holyrood Park on June 7, 2020 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Nurses view a painting by Glasgow artist Robert Miller of three NHS colleagues on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19. It hangs just outside the Intensive Care Unit of Glasgow Royal Infirmary. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Protesters hold placards as they attend a demonstration in Edinburgh on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. - Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A customer service assistant at Edinburgh Waverley Station as Scotland moves into phase one of the Scottish Government's plan for gradually lifting lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A new piece of street art by The Rebel Bear has appeared on a wall in Leith, Scotland, as Scotland is moving into phase one of the Scottish Government's plan for gradually lifting lockdown, Wednesday June 3, 2020. Scotland and Wales have developed separate procedures from England to gradually allow the lifting of lockdown restrictions because of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
People walk by Portobello beach as the country moved into phase one of the Scottish Government's plan to gradually lift restrictions in place to curb coronavirus, allowing people to meet family and friends outdoors and play sports such as golf and tennis again, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Friday May 29, 2020. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
(clockwise from top) Iain Tait, Kyle Storrie, Rory Armatage, Scott Rowan, Johnn Stevens, Dave Brunton and Bruce Collins, from East Lothian Council's Amenity Services stand alongside the floral display they created acknowledging the 75th anniversary of VE Day and thanking the NHS during the current Covid-19 pandemic in the Lodge Grounds at North Berwick. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
A jogger passes NHS supporting art on a wall in Glasgow as Scotland moves into phase one of the Scottish Government's plan for gradually lifting lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Olivia Harper sunbathes on the Old Course at St Andrews, in Fife as final preparations are completed to the course ahead of reopening tomorrow. On the day that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that people in Scotland will be able to meet one other household at a time outdoors from Friday as lockdown measures around the coronavirus pandemic ease. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Gavin McAdam wears one of the face masks designed by his Edinburgh pop-up company Breathe Easy which is producing a range of reusable face coverings to help in the fight against coronavirus, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Wednesday May 20, 2020. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
Staff from Queen Elizabeth University Hospital gather as they join in the applause to salute local heroes during Thursday's nationwide Clap for Carers to recognise and support NHS workers and carers fighting the coronavirus pandemic, in Glasgow, Scotland, Thursday May 28, 2020. On Thursday evening, people across the U.K. stood on balconies, doorsteps and sidewalks to applaud care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, for the 10th and possibly final time. Annemarie Plas, 36, founded the ritual but says that “to have the most impact I think it is good to stop it at its peak.” (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MAY 27: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon looks on during the First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament on May 27, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Fraser Bremner-Pool/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MAY 27: Willie Rennie MSP Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader attends the First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament on May 27, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Fraser Bremner-Pool/Getty Images)
GLASGOW - MAY 27: Members of the public walk past new graffiti on Clyde Street on May 27, 2020 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 20: Police speak with members of the public as they enjoy the hottest day of the year on May 20, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A person walks past coronavirus related graffiti on a wall in Glasgow after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks past a mural paying tribute to NHS staff who continue to work during the coronavirus pandemic in Glasgow on May 16, 2020, as lockdown to kurb the spread of COVID-19 continues. - Officials statistics show Britain had recorded more than 36,000 deaths in the outbreak by the start of the month, the second-worst in the world, although the government's current total -- which is a less comprehensive count -- is 34,446. The health ministry announced another 468 deaths on May 16. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 18: Celtic fans gather at Celtic Park following the announcement that their club has been crowned Scottish champions for the ninth season in a row and Hearts have been relegated after the SPFL ended the season on May 18, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 15: Estonian freelance ballet dancer and choreographer, Eve Mutso performs her daily fitness routine near her home Charing Cross on May 15, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 20: Police speak with members of the public as they enjoy the hottest day of the year on May 20, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A member of the public at Glasgow Green as part of gatherings taking place this weekend across the UK against the coronavirus pandemic restrictions after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Members of the public gather in Glasgow Green to protest against the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Becs Barker (left) chats to her neighbour Jan Brown on her doorstep in Minard, Argyll and Bute. A handful of residents in the village set up a community group to help the vulnerable with shopping with the majority of those in the village now assisting and in the process have discovered a renewed community spirit through their efforts to combat lockdown loneliness. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police attend as members of the public gather in Glasgow Green to protest against the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Hannah McGee takes picture of a piece of art by the artist, known as the Rebel Bear after it appeared on a wall on Ashton Lane in Glasgow. The new addition to Glasgow's street art is capturing the global Coronavirus crisis. The piece features a nurse wearing a mask and forming a love heart with her hands as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A person walks past a boarded up shop in Glasgow with the wording HEROES written on it as a tribute to the NHS as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Mitch Wilkins is tested at a drive through testing facility for COVID-19 at Edinburgh Airport as Scotland continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
CAMPBELTOWN, SCOTLAND - MAY 07: Members of the Campbeltown community turn out for the funeral of 52 year old Ambulance Paramedic Robert Black who passed away from coronavirus last week on May 7, 2020 in Campbeltown, Scotland. The country continued quarantine measures intended to curb the spread of Covid-19, but the infection rate is falling, and government officials are discussing the terms under which it would ease the lockdown. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 06: A member of the public walks past a sign at Charing Cross during the coronavirus lockdown on May 6, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. The country continues quarantine measures intended to curb the spread of Covid-19, but the infection rate is falling, and government officials are discussing the terms under which it would ease the lockdown. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, - APRIL 22: A man takes in the view of the Glenlee tall ship as the sun sets over the city during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown on April 22, 2020 in Glasgow,United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 22: Technicians carry out a sample transfer during the opening of the new Covid-19 testing lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on April 22, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Testing of samples has officially started this week at the Lighthouse Lab which is hosted by the University of Glasgow at its Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. The project funded by the UK Government is part of a network of diagnostic testing facilities alongside other Lighthouse Lab sites in Milton Keynes and Alderley Park, Cheshire. Experts hope the new Covid-19 facility will be able to carry out tens of thousands of tests a day. (Photo by Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
A thank you NHS flutters at the golfcourse in Grangemouth, Scotland, on April 21, 2020. - Oil-price turmoil gripped traders once more Tuesday, a day after US crude futures crashed below zero for the first time as the coronavirus crisis crippled global energy demand and worsened a supply glut. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Exterior cleaning contractor Malcolm Bennet from Flamingo Exterior Cleaning voluntarily disinfects aruond a bus shelter in Ayr town Centre on the west coast of Scotland on April 18, 2020 as life in Britain continues under lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 illness. - Malcolm Bennet and Robin Barclay, owners of Flamingo Exterior Cleaning, have been donating their time and materials to clean and disinfect public spaces in towns around Aryshire on the west coast of Scotland as a way of contributing to the fight against the spread of the new coronavirus amid a deadly global pandemic. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Members of the public are seen out on Princess Street during the coronavirus pandemic on April 17, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland.The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 120,000 lives and infecting over 2 million people. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A cyclist passes graffiti in Glasgow city centre as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Members of the public are seen out on the Royal Mile during the coronavirus pandemic on April 17, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 120,000 lives and infecting over 2 million people. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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In a further tightening of restrictions on gatherings, Ms Sturgeon said it was now only possible for two people from two different households to meet outdoors – instead of the limit of six people from two households which had applied previously.

This, however, does not include children aged 11 and under, who can still "play outdoors in larger groups, including in organised gatherings", the First Minister said.

She added that "with regret" churches and other places of worship are to close, apart from for broadcasting services, funerals, weddings or civil partnerships

While up to 20 people will still be able to attend funeral services, wakes will not be permitted during January and the numbers allowed to attend a wedding or civil partnership will be limited to just five people.

People who had previously been advised to shield are now being told not to go into work at all.

Ms Sturgeon said the lockdown measures would be kept under close review but added: "However, I cannot at this stage rule out having to keep them in place longer, nor making further changes. Nothing about this is easy.

"I know how devastating restrictions like these ones are and I give an assurance that we will not keep them in place for longer than is absolutely necessary."

1,905 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Scotland.

This brings the confirmed total number of cases to 136,498.

Latest update ➡ https://t.co/bZPbrCoQuxHealth advice ➡ https://t.co/l7rqArB6Qupic.twitter.com/7mvrxBKYUh

— Scottish Government (@scotgov) January 4, 2021

Holyrood was recalled for the First Minister to announce the changes, which had earlier been agreed by a meeting of the Scottish cabinet.

With coronavirus cases increasing – a total of 1,905 more Scots tested positive in the previous 24 hours – Ms Sturgeon likened the situation to a race between the vaccine and the virus.

More than 100,000 people north of the border have already been given their first dose of the vaccine, with the new AstraZeneca one being rolled out from Monday.

Ms Sturgeon said that in the final days of 2020, between December 23 and 30, the number of cases had risen from 136 per 100,000 people to 225 per 100,000 people – a jump of 65%.

It is now hoped that by early May everyone over the age of 50, as well as younger people with specific underlying conditions, will have received at least one dose of vaccine – over 2.5 million people.

But Ms Sturgeon conceded the emergence of the faster-spreading variant of the virus had been a "massive blow".

To help ensure the vaccine "wins the race" against the virus, she said it was essential to pick up the pace of the immunisation programme.

But she stressed it was still necessary to "slow the virus down", adding: "Because it is now spreading faster, that means even tougher restrictions are necessary."

The new strain of Covid-19 "already accounts for almost half of all new cases in Scotland," Ms Sturgeon told MSPs.

Speaking about the situation in London and the south east of England, she said Scotland had the chance "to avert the situation here deteriorating to that extent but we must act quickly".

The decision to keep schools and nurseries closed for most children until February 1 was the "most difficult of all", the First Minister said.

The Scottish Government had already announced school holidays were being extended to January 11, with ministers having originally planned for remote learning until January 18 – a period which will now be extended by another two weeks.

However, schools will still be open for the children of key workers who cannot work from home, and for vulnerable youngsters.

Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said the new restrictions were "hard news at a hard time, when the resilience of people has already been worn down over the past year".

Meanwhile, she said parents would be "dismayed" by the extended closure of schools and the impact this would have on the "fractured education" of youngsters, who had to study for home for months during the initial lockdown.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "The issue here today is not whether schools and school buildings are open or not, it is about how much preparation has been made by the Government for the continuation of our children's education."

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