Nicola Sturgeon. Getty Images
Scotland will go back into national coronavirus lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon announced Monday.
Members of the public will be legally required to stay at home, with schools remaining closed in January.
A new, faster-spreading coronavirus variant has taken hold in Britain.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also under pressure to place England back into full lockdown.
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Scotland will go back into full national coronavirus lockdown with schools remaining closed and members of the public legally required to stay at home, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday afternoon.
Sturgeon said the measures would come into force starting at midnight.
“I can confirm now in summary that we have decided to introduce from midnight tonight for the duration of January a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes,” she told the Scottish Parliament.
“This is similar to the lockdown of March last year.”
Starting Tuesday, all household mixing will be banned indoors, and a maximum of two people over the age of 11 will be allowed to meet outdoors.
It will be illegal for anyone to leave home unless taking part in essential work, essential shopping, exercise, or visiting an extended household bubble.
Schools will also remain closed to most pupils for the rest of January, with a review taking place on January 18 on whether schools can reopen in February.
Sturgeon said she had chosen to act to prevent the situation in Scotland “deteriorating” to the same level as seen in England, where there’s been an explosion in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the Christmas holidays.
“We are now seeing a steeply rising trend of infections,” the first minister said.
It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.”
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected on Monday evening to announce new national coronavirus restrictions amid growing pressure to also place England back under a strict lockdown.
Johnson’s spokesman said on Monday afternoon: “The prime minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives. He will set those out this evening.”
Coronavirus restrictions already apply in differing degrees in English regions. But Johnson had previously resisted imposing another full national lockdown.
Speaking on Monday morning as the latest figures show exponential growth in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, the prime minister said “tougher measures” were needed to control the virus.
He told reporters during a visit to a hospital in London that “if you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer on Sunday called for an immediate national lockdown because of the explosion in case numbers and hospitalizations over the Christmas holidays, saying the situation in England was now “clearly out of control.”
Parents across many parts of England where primaries schools were set to open on Monday received messages from their children’s schools over the weekend informing them that they would also not be reopening because of a shortage of teaching staff.
Teachers have been advised by the National Education Union not to attend schools because of the “serious and imminent danger” to their health caused by the virus.
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