The First Minister addressed a recalled Scottish Parliament on Wednesday to update the nation on COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and measures after the Christmas weekend. Ms Sturgeon said in a virtual address that caution was key when assessing the new data and the stress on the health services with skyrocketing case numbers.
She said that 80 percent of all cases in Scotland were now identified as the Omicron variant, and that case numbers had increased by 47 percent on the previous week.
She warned that the full impact of the Christmas period is not yet known, but the spread of Omicron will likely see a further spike in cases in weeks and months ahead.
She said that everyone, over the New Year’s period and beyond, should stay at home “more than usual”, pushing for ventilation and limits on household mixing.
Scotland hit a record 15,849 positive confirmed tests for COVID-19, Ms Sturgeon added – a significant jump on the previous highest daily case number of the entire pandemic.
Whilst England has no new COVID-19 restrictions in place, Scotland reimposed a number of coronavirus measures on Boxing Day, along with Wales and Northern Ireland.
Limits on large events came into force on December 26, including a cap of 100 people at indoor standing events and 200 people at indoor seated events.
The following day saw the closure of nightclubs, a one-metre distance rule for hospitality and no more than three households in a group.
The Scottish First Minister reiterated in Wednesday’s address to Holyrood that these measures would not be loosened before the three-week mark, which will be January 17.
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Her confirmation of the new measures was greeted with an incensed reaction by some Express.co.uk readers, calling her stance overly cautious and damaging to Scotland.
One reader and apparent long-time SNP voter, Yarramulag, commented: “It’s time for the return of the United Kingdom the political experiment has failed. From someone who supported independence for decades.”
This echoed the previous thoughts of many Scots, including @davidstoker_lfc on Twitter, who posted to the First Minister: “Enough @NicolaSturgeon.
“Triple vaccinated, got a passport, wear a mask, sanitise my hands and still subject to draconian restrictions around football games in ‘low risk’ outdoor settings.
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“Well, no more votes for you, no more monthly direct debit, no more leaflets through doors.”
Express.co.uk reader SnowPilot50 agreed, reacting to the news: “It’s all backfired on her and Drakeford. Oh dear, how sad, never mind.”
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that, as of Boxing Day, nightclubs in Wales will be shut and the rule of six reinstated.
A maximum of 30 people can now attend indoor events and 50 people can gather at outdoor events.
The restrictions across the devolved nations particularly antagonised the struggling hospitality industry, with leading figures warning that Scots and Welsh revelers on the English border will simply cross over into a restriction-free England for New Year’s festivities.
After the First Minister announced the restrictions, William Lees-Jones, owner of JW Lees pubs, responded by barring Ms Sturgeon from his premises “for life”.
He said the restrictions would hit the already struggling hospitality sector hardest of all, warning that many businesses could fold for good.
The businessman told Manchester Evening News: “The reshuffling of bookings and New Year, that’s going to send some businesses over the edge.”
Express.co.uk reader Jediasreturnef zeroed in on this, arguing: “The pubs in England along the border will be doing a roaring trade. All down to England for a wee dram or two.”