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Article published 19/12/2020

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced today (Saturday 19 December) a tightening to the previously announced relaxation of restrictions for the Christmas period in Scotland.

This announcement has been made to lower circulation across Scotland, following the discovery of a mutation of COVID-19, which is reported to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original virus. The First Minister announced that 17 cases of the new strain have been identified in Scotland, 16 of which are in Greater Glasgow.

The previously announced relaxation of rules to accommodate travel over the Christmas period, from Wednesday 23 - Sunday 27 December, has now been changed to only permit up to three households and a maximum of eight people to meet indoors between 00.01 on Christmas Day and 00.01 on Boxing Day.

The First Minister’s update announced the following measures: 

  • A strict travel ban between the rest of the United Kingdom and Scotland, which includes Christmas Day and the festive period. The Scottish Government is seeking to strengthen enforcement of travel restrictions, though operational decisions remain with Police Scotland
  • It will become law in the coming days for the mixing of a maximum of three households, totalling a maximum of eight people, to only be permitted on Christmas Day. The advice from the First Minister remains that this is a maximum, and these numbers should be as minimal as possible.
  • Travel between levels across Scotland is now only permitted on Christmas Day.
  • Rules on international travel are being reviewed with an announcement due early next week. However, the First Minister currently strongly advises against international travel.
  • Those with caring responsibilities can continue to visit those in need
  • Schools will remain open next week and close as scheduled prior to Christmas

From Boxing Day (00.01 on 26 December) the following restrictions come into force:

  • Level four measures will be for all of mainland Scotland from 00.01 on Boxing Day (26 December) morning. Those in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles will move to Level three with strict travel restrictions
  • Non-essential retail will close
  • Schools will reopen for vulnerable children and the children of key workers on scheduled start dates
  • All other children will receive online learning from Monday 11 January and return to school on Monday 18 January
  • Teachers will return on the originally scheduled date

For further information on these updated restrictions, take a look at the Scottish Government's COVID-19 new Christmas and festive period guidance. 

You can also find out more about what Level four and Level three restrictions will mean for your business, as these new levels come into place on Boxing Day (Saturday 26 December).

Festive guidance - question and answers...