Scots urged to limit socialising to three householdson December 14, 2021 at 2:32 pm

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The Scottish government issues “strong guidance” asking people to limit gatherings to three households at a time.

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People in Scotland have been asked to limit socialising to three households at a time in the run-up to Christmas amid concerns over the Omicron variant.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the advice would not apply on Christmas Day and that plans should not be cancelled.

But she said people should reduce their social contacts with other households “as far as possible”.

Firms will also be encouraged to bring back physical distancing and screens in shops and hospitality venues.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that Scotland is facing a “likely tsunami” of new infections of Covid-19 in the weeks ahead, with a “very significant” impact on health services.

Meanwhile the Treasury said it would make extra funding available to devolved governments to accelerate the vaccine rollout and tackle the virus.

Ms Sturgeon said £100m would be used to help businesses in hospitality and food supply chains which have been hit by advice to cancel work Christmas parties.

And the government is working to identify new mass vaccination centres as part of a push to offer a booster jab to all adults by the end of the month.

Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that the Omicron variant is “spreading very rapidly” in Scotland, with cases “increasing exponentially” and doubling every two to three days.

She said that even if the new strain proves milder than the previously dominant Delta variant, the fact it spreads much faster could still put “significant” pressure on health services.

The first minister said action was needed “in the face of a threat that is very real”.

In the runup to and period immediately after Christmas, people will be asked not to socialise in groups larger than three households at any given time.

This will not be enforced in law, but Ms Sturgeon said guidance would be issued to “cut down as far as possible the number of people outside our own households that we are interacting with just now”.

People have not been asked to cancel their Christmas day plans and places of worship will remain open, but Ms Sturgeon said advice would be issued “to help you make Christmas safer”.

She said it be would be “sensible” to “keep your celebrations as small as your family circumstances allow” and make sure everyone involved is vaccinated and has taken a Covid-19 test.

Meanwhile a new legal requirement will be imposed on businesses to take measures to reduce the spread of transmission.

These will include the return of measures to reduce crowding in shops and at bars, physical distancing and the use of protective screens.

And it will again be a legal requirement for employers to enable staff to work from home where possible.

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