Covid: New social mixing guidelines likely in Scotlandon December 14, 2021 at 9:42 am

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The first minister is expected to give new advice on how many other people or households you should meet in a day.

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Image source, Getty Images

New guidelines on social contact are expected to be outlined by Scotland’s first minister on Tuesday afternoon.

BBC Scotland political editor Glenn Campbell said this could include advice on how many other people or households you should meet in one day.

There is likely to be flexibility around Christmas, and the limits are expected to be advice rather than law.

And there is not expected to be any extension to the vaccine passport scheme at this stage.

However, there may be a request to shops and places of worship to improve social distancing and other safety measures.

And advice that has already been issued around taking regular tests, working from home where possible and putting off work Christmas parties may be extended.

The Scottish government has been looking at measures that Ireland has already put in place, which say that no more than four households should gather together in someone’s home.

Both the UK and Scottish governments are aiming to offer Covid booster vaccine appointments to all over-18s by the end of the year.

The booster shot gives people far greater protection against the heavily-mutated Omicron variant than two vaccine doses alone.

Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she wants to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant while the booster programme is being ramped up, with Health Secretary Humza Yousaf saying that new restrictions were “inevitable”.

Nicola Sturgeon

Image source, Reuters

Ms Sturgeon will host a meeting of her cabinet this morning to agree the new measures, before announcing them in the Scottish Parliament at about 14:05 this afternoon.

She has already rejected calls from a teaching union to close schools early for the Christmas holidays, saying the priority was to keep them open safely.

A total of 186 cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed across Scotland so far, although this is thought to be a significant under-estimate of the true picture.

The UK’s first death linked to the new variant was reported on Monday, and case numbers in Scotland are thought to be doubling every two to three days.

Omicron is expected to replace Delta as the dominant form of the virus this week.

Total vaccinations

Julie Ashworth, who chairs Edinburgh branch of the Institute of Directors, said the Scottish government should set out clear and definitive measures in response to Omicron rather than attempting to introduce “lockdown by stealth”.

She added: “What is happening is customers are filling in the gaps in terms of guidance.

“It means that all businesses across all sectors are impacted by that, particularly hospitality, travel, retail and smaller businesses – customers are staying away and being cautious.

“What we’re seeing because of that lack of clarity is that both trade and customer sentiment is being hurt.”

It comes as MPs prepare to vote on new Covid rules for England later, with about 70 Conservatives expected to rebel against Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

His proposal to make Covid passes a requirement of entering large venues such as nightclubs – which is already the case in Scotland – has angered many of his own MPs.

The measures are still likely to pass as Labour says it will support them.󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

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