Nicola Sturgeon announced during her daily Covid briefing that Scots would be encouraged to limit their social interactions over the festive period. Speaking from Edinburgh, she stressed: “Firstly and unequivocally the safest way to spend Christmas this year for you and for those you love is to stay within your own household and your own home. My strong recommendation is this is what you should do if at all possible.”
The advice is at odds with comments made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Boris Johnson said the agreed rules for families of up to three households to mix over a period of five days from December 23-27 would remain in place.
He said: “This morning there is unanimous agreement across all the UK Government, across all the devolved administrations – including members of all parties – that we should proceed in principle with the existing regulations because we don’t want to criminalise people’s long-made plans.”
Responding to Ms Sturgeon’s comments, social media users were quick to offer their thoughts, with one person saying: “Huge mistake!”
Someone else said: “It’s utter madness that we can’t have a little bit of Christmas magic. So disappointed.”
A third said: “If @NicolaSturgeon goes on her own and changes the ‘rules’ for the five days over Christmas I can categorically say I’ve already made plans and won’t be changing a thing!”
Another Twitter user was angry the four nations of the UK could not come to an agreement.
They wrote: “You would think that the leaders in the UK could get one message correct this year, couldn’t you? Nope, now Christmas confusion and uncertainty for families because they can’t make a simple decision. Appalling all of them.”
The First Minister said any mixing with other households should take place outside, if possible, but that if it was “essential” to meet indoors people should limit the time of that meeting and the numbers involved as much as possible.
She recommended that those people forming a Christmas bubble should only meet up with people on one day, if possible, and not stay overnight “unless it is unavoidable”.
She also stressed the need to limit numbers, saying: “In short, if you have to form a bubble keep it as small as possible.”
The First Minister said the Scottish Government was recommending against travel from areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus to parts of the country with a lower rate.
She said: “If you haven’t made plans to form a bubble, please don’t.
“If you are still swithering, please decide against. And if you have made plans but think they are not really essential, please think about postponing until later in the year.”
She told people: “The reality is that this Christmas simply can’t be normal. But we have every reason to hope that next year will be much more normal.”
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Nicola Sturgeon said governments across the UK did “not intend to take away the flexibility” over Christmas.
The First Minister added: “That, in my view, wouldn’t be fair at this stage and wouldn’t be realistic either, and may risk undermining, rather than strengthening, compliance with the overall Covid guidance.”
She said the Scottish Government would strengthen its guidance to people on “whether and how they make use of the flexibility”.
Ms Sturgeon added she hoped there could be a four nations agreement on a “clear and united” message to the public on this.