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Christmas coronavirus restrictions in Scotland: Travel to and from rest of the UK banned and Level 4 measures from Boxing Day

© PAFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Eased restrictions over the festive period will now apply on Christmas Day only as new measures are introduced to combat a fast-spreading strain of coronavirus.

With just days to go until many were planning to travel to visit loved ones, Nicola Sturgeon announced that indoor mixing would only be allowed on December 25, rather than for the five-day period planned.

She also announced a “strict travel ban” over the festive period, preventing travel to and from the rest of the UK.

From Boxing Day, all mainland areas of Scotland will be placed into Level 4 restrictions for a period of three weeks.

The restrictions will be reviewed after two weeks, the First Minister said, adding that islands will be under Level 3 restrictions.

Into January, Christmas holidays for most Scottish pupils have been extended to January 11 and the majority will begin the new term studying from home.

The First Minister said schools will reopen as currently scheduled for some pupils, such as children of key workers.

But for most pupils, the new school term will begin on January 11, with online learning until “at least” January 18.

The move follows an announcement earlier by Boris Johnson that areas affected by the virus variant, including London and the south-east of England, would see Christmas effectively cancelled and new higher levels of restrictions.

17 cases involving the new strain have been identified in Scotland, but this is likely to be an underestimate, the First Minister said.

Ms Sturgeon stressed that the new measures were being taken to act “preventatively” as Scotland isn’t in the “difficult situation” faced by areas down south.

She said: “In order to reduce the risk of more of the [coronavirus] strain being imported into Scotland, we intend to maintain a strict travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“Unfortunately, and I am genuinely sorry about this, that ban will remain in place right throughout the festive period.

“We simply cannot risk more of this new strain entering the country if we can possibly avoid it.

“That means people from Scotland not visiting other parts of the UK, and vice versa.

“Cross-border travel for all but the most essential purposes is not permitted.”