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New guidance issued for the festive period
Scotland will significantly tighten protections against COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the new, highly contagious strain of the virus.
Following confirmation that the new variant of COVID-19 spreads substantially more quickly, the First Minister announced on Saturday 19 December 2020 that Scotland needs to act now.
To keep people safe, the First Minister announced:
the planned easing of restrictions around Christmas will be limited to Christmas Day itself, and not the previous 5 day window that was planned;
legal household limits will still apply - a maximum of 8 people from 3 households - however advice is to minimise the numbers.Where possible, people should celebrate the festive period at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors;
other than for specific exemptions, travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK will not be legal;
travel within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day from Boxing Day, all of Scotland will have Level 4 restrictions applied, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities where restrictions have been reduced in recent weeks, who will be placed in Level 3; and
from Boxing Day, in line with existing law, travel across local authority boundaries between areas in Level 3 or 4 will not be legal other than for specific exempt purposes.
The First Minister also set out new plans for the return of schools in the New Year. Teachers will return to work as planned and children of key workers and the most vulnerable children, will return to schools as planned. For the majority of pupils the holiday period will be extended until 11 January and learning will begin online from then until at least 18 January 2021.
All these measures will be kept under regular review.