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Covid: Scots told not to meet up as Nicola Sturgeon gives coronavirus update

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon will deliver a Covid update at Holyrood as Scots are told not to meet up with friends and family before Christmas.

The statement, which will begin around 2.15pm this afternoon, is the last scheduled coronavirus update from the first minister before Holyrood breaks up for recess on Christmas Eve.

Many across the country will be tuning in to find out if their Christmas plans can go ahead, or whether any new restrictions will be brought in to help stem the spread of the new Omicron variant.

There is speculation the first minister is considering new restrictions on crowds at football matches.

The Welsh government has confirmed all sporting events there will be held behind closed doors from Boxing Day due to the surge in coronavirus cases.

On Monday 6,734 people tested positive for the virus, the highest number of cases recorded in a single day since September.

How likely are new restrictions?

Ms Sturgeon’s update comes after she told Scots to reduce their socialising as much as possible and to limit gatherings to just three households, despite being unable to enshrine this request in law.

Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at St Andrews University and a member of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Insights Group, also said people should not meet up with friends and family for the next few days if they want to have a “good Christmas dinner”.

Hospital admissions could reach 3,000 a day if no further restrictions are introduced, according to a warning from the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

We will rule nothing out.

– Boris Johnson

On social media on Monday, Ms Sturgeon signalled there will be no major changes to Christmas Covid guidance despite concerns over the Omicron variant.

Earlier, senior ministers met in Downing Street to discuss whether or not more restrictions are needed, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he will rule nothing out.

After the meeting Mr Johnson said the government will keep the data under “constant review” and says there is the “possibility of taking further action to protect the public and our NHS”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

He said: “We won’t hesitate to take action.

“It could not be more urgent.

“We are looking at all kinds of things – we will rule nothing out.”

Mr Johnson has not yet given any further detail as to what these potential restrictions could include.

Call for Scotland’s own furlough scheme

This briefing comes on the same day as a report is published calling for devolved governments to be allowed to launch their own wage support schemes.

The expert report says the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments should be given minimum funding guarantees by Westminster, or enhanced borrowing powers to cope with economic shut-down.

People wearing face masks

David Bell, professor of economics at Stirling University, said: “Effective communication and coordination between the UK and devolved governments is vital for effective policy-making given the interactions between funding and policy decisions taken by these two levels of government.

“There were improvements during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic but stakeholders have told us these have not been sustained.”

The report also says HM Revenue and Customs should examine whether furlough and self-employment income support schemes can be regional.

How to watch the briefing

The briefing gets under way around 2.15pm and will be broadcast live on Scottish Parliament TV.

You will also be able to follow along live on our Live Blog, which will be published around 2pm.

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