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Covid in Scotland: New restrictions come into force to help contain spread of Omicron

© Steve Brown / DCT MediaFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

New Covid guidance for businesses in Scotland has come into force to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

As of Friday, the Scottish Government said businesses across the country are legally required to take “reasonable measures” to minimise transmission of the virus as Omicron cases continue to rise.

Its advice includes a return to one-way systems in premises, app-based ordering and the use of screens at service points.

The hospitality sector has been encouraged to return to table service where practical and to consider measures to reduce crowding.

Businesses have also been asked to consider a ticketing system during peak festive opening hours where appropriate, according to the latest advice.

By law in Scotland, everyone over the age of 12 must wear face coverings indoors, unless exempt, and the new guidance stressed masks should be worn inside all businesses.

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said it is “crucial” that everyone follows the latest advice to support businesses to keep their premises safe and prevent further transmission of Omicron.

“All of these layers of protection will help to limit the spread of Omicron, especially as we approach the festive period,” she said.

“I am also making a plea to be considerate to staff who are doing their best during this challenging period.”

With the new guidance likely to have a financial impact on industry, the Scottish Government said a £100 million financial package for eligible businesses is being established to support them through this period.

A sum of £100 million for self-isolation support grants – grants for low-income workers who are required to self-isolate – is also being made available to those who need it.

No more than three households to mix in run up to Christmas advises Nicola Sturgeon as Omicron surges

Ms Forbes said the Scottish Government is calling on the UK Treasury to “step up and provide urgent funding” to businesses as the new Covid guidance comes into force.

She added: “We are working to get funding out to businesses as soon as we can but the Treasury must also step up and provide urgent funding beyond what we are able to provide.

“I wrote to the Chancellor last night and the First Minister has requested talks with the Prime Minister – this situation is serious and we need the UK Government to engage with us on further support.”

Ms Forbes said the Scottish Government hopes Ms Sturgeon will have the opportunity to speak to the Prime Minister on Friday.

She told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “Omicron is evolving daily, we cannot therefore rule out having to go further, on any front.

“But, right now, the choices on the health front are inhibited by the restrictions that we have on the financial front.

“So what the First Minister is saying is, we are monitoring the trajectory and the impact of Omicron, it has spread fast already, impacts on business are obvious, if we really want to reduce transmission further and therefore go further, we cannot do that without additional financial support.”