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Sturgeon tells Scotland to limit socialising over Christmas

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Sturgeon tells Scotland to limit socialising over Christmas

The public are being asked to limit socialising to three households over the festive period, and to keep Christmas Day celebrations “as small as is reasonably possible”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined the measures during a weekly Covid update in the Scottish Parliament.

She also said businesses will be required by law to implement anti-Covid infection measures, including recording customer information and preventing crowding.

Sturgeon told the parliament: “Firstly, we want to keep businesses open - but to help achieve this, we are asking them to step up the protections in place in their premises.

“We intend to amend regulations to put a legal requirement on those running businesses or providing services to take measures which are reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of transmission.

“For example - in retail, it will involve a return to the kind of protections from the start of the pandemic - like measures to avoid crowding and bottlenecks.”

On limiting household socialising, Sturgeon said: “My hardest request today is of the general public.

“I'm not asking anyone to ‘cancel’ Christmas, but in the run up to and in the aftermath of Christmas, I'm asking everyone to reduce, as far as possible and to a minimum, the contacts we have with people in other households.

“We are not banning or restricting household mixing in law as before.

“We understand the negative impact this has on mental health and wellbeing.

“We are asking everyone - and we will issue strong guidance to this effect - to cut down as far as possible the number of people outside our own households that we are interacting with just now.

“This will help break transmission chains.”

Sturgeon also said “it could be argued we should go further”, but said financial packages can only come from borrowing by the UK Treasury – and that financial support is not triggered if devolved governments make lockdown decisions.

However, during the First Minister’s speech, the Treasury announced additional funding from the UK reserve will be made available to the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to progress their vaccine rollout and wider health response.

A release from the UK Treasury reads: “While the devolved administrations are well-funded to continue their response to Covid-19, and have their own reserves and contingency funds, any additional in-year Barnett funding will not be confirmed until early 2022 through the Supplementary Estimates process.

“HM Treasury has therefore announced that additional funding will be made available to the devolved administrations to provide greater certainty and allow them to plan as they tackle Covid-19 during the crucial weeks ahead. 

“HM Treasury will set this amount of additional funding in the coming days and will keep it under review in the following weeks.

“The UK Government has already provided the devolved administrations with an extra £12.6 billion through the Barnett formula this year – this includes £1.3 billion confirmed at the recent Autumn Budget and takes their total funding this year to £77.6 billion.

“This is on top of UK Government spending on vaccines and tests for the whole of the UK and UK-wide support for businesses and jobs.”

During the questions section of the Covid update, Sturgeon was handed a note in the Scottish Parliament, apparently detailing the UK Treasury’s plans.

She said: “While I don’t have the details of that, I do absolutely welcome that, it’s a good thing, it’s something we’ve been pushing for.”

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