John Swinney signalled an Omicron outbreak in Scotland will lead to “further measures” by the Holyrood government in the run-up to Christmas.
The deputy first minister suggested “physical distancing” restrictions might be tightened.
But he insisted it was “too early” to say if a rethink was needed on family festive plans.
Mr Swinney was speaking after it was confirmed on Monday morning that six cases of the Omicron variant had been identified in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to give an unscheduled coronavirus briefing this morning following the news.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Mr Swinney said that the travel histories of those who had tested positive for the Omicron variant suggested there was a degree of community transition.
He said this “opens up further challenges for us”, and would be the focus of contact tracing efforts.
Four cases of the variant are in the Lanarkshire area and two are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Mr Swinney said: “We’ve got to look very carefully at what would be the most effective ways of interrupting the circulation of the virus.
“And that’s the issue which we keep constantly under review within the Scottish Government.
“We have a range of well-established baseline measures which we are saying to the public… we insist upon members of the public complying with, in relation to the wearing of face coverings, to observing social distancing, ventilating rooms, to hand hygiene arrangements.
“If we undertake as many of these measures as we possibly can do, we can take steps to interrupt the circulation of the virus.
“But we may have to take further measures in the light of the fact that we might be dealing with a strain of the virus that is more transmissible than previous incarnations.”
We may have to take further measures in the light of the fact that we might be dealing with a strain of the virus that is more transmissible than previous carnations.”
Asked what type of measures might be considered, the Covid recovery secretary said: “Some of the issues about physical distancing for example are really important.
“Physical distancing, we know, is a significant obstacle to the circulation of the virus, and we may need to look at measures of that nature.
“These are issues that he government is looking carefully at just now, and obviously in the course of the next few days, as we learn more about Omicron we will provide further details and updates on the steps that we need to take.”
Mr Swinney was also pressed on whether Christmas plans would be impacted by the outbreak.
“I think it is too early to say that. I think we are in a much stronger position because of the level of vaccination that we have in our society,” he said.
“Members of the public have taken part tremendously in the vaccination programme, so we do have very high levels of protection within the population.
“It’s what we need to do beyond that, that I think is relevant for the period ahead, and that is about making sure we are all very disciplined about wearing face coverings, observing physical distancing, ventilating rooms, keeping the hand hygiene at the highest standards, so we don’t in any way relax from the application of those essential measures.