Scotland will enter a new national lockdown from midnight tonight (January 4), first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The lockdown will last for the rest of January and schools will remain closed to the majority of pupils – except for vulnerable children and key workers’ children – until at least February.

Updating MSPs in Holyrood, the first minister stated that it will become a legal requirement to stay at home – except for essential purposes.

Essential stores are permitted remain open, however the current 1 metre exemption for workplace canteens will end and canteens will have to ensure that employees sit 2 metres or more apart.

People must work from home where possible and a maximum of two people from two households can meet outdoors. Children aged 11 and under will not be counted in that limit, and they will also be able to play outdoors in larger groups, including in organised gatherings.

Travelling in or out of Scotland will not be permitted – except for essential purposes – and communal worship cannot take place.

The news comes amid a new variant of the disease – which is “up to 70 per cent more infectious” than the original strain – and “a steeply rising trend of infections” in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Indeed 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.”

According to modelling by the Scottish Government, she said hospitals would be overrun within “three or four weeks” if no action is taken.

She added: “We have an opportunity in Scotland to avert the situation here deteriorating to that extent. But we must act quickly.”

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