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Nicola Sturgeon’s message to students as guidance to be issued on returning to family homes

© Jeff J Mitchell/PA WireFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon said she was “so heart sorry” for those in student accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic.

The First Minister, speaking at the coronavirus briefing on Friday, said that guidance could be issued over the weekend on whether students may be allowed to return to family homes.

It comes as hundreds across Scotland have had to self-isolate amid virus outbreaks, and have been told not to go to bars or restaurants this weekend.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m going to be frank, that’s a difficult balancing act, because if you go home after you’ve been asked to self-isolate that may have implications for your family, who then also may be asked to self-isolate if you test positive.

“I wanted to let you know that we are looking at what might be possible there and it is our aim to issue some further guidance on that over the weekend.”

Students across Scotland told to avoid pubs this weekend as coronavirus outbreaks continue

The First Minister thanked students for their compliance so far, adding: “You’re bearing a burden that I desperately wish you didn’t have to be bearing right now, but you’re playing your collective part in beating Covid-19 back.

“For that, you have my thanks and deep appreciation, and also understanding, of how difficult this is for you at this time.”

She assured students they were not to blame for the spread of the virus, saying: “I am so sorry, so heart sorry, that this time of your lives is being made as tough as it is just now – I really feel for you, but I feel especially for those of you starting university for the first time and, of course, living alone for the first time.

“This is an exciting time in your lives but I remember from my own experience that it’s also a time of adjustment and it’s also a time of home sickness as well, and that’s the case for students every year without Covid-19 but it is much more difficult given the circumstances you are all facing right now.”

The First Minister urged students not to visit other households and asked them not to go to bars and restaurants over the September weekend, as well as download the Protect Scotland app.

558 new coronavirus cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours, representing 9.5% of those newly tested.

Ms Sturgeon said that the figures have been impacted by the large number of student cases.

Provisional estimates showed 255 cases in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 119 in Lothian and 61 in Lanarkshire, with the rest located across the other health board areas.

No deaths have been recorded, although Ms Sturgeon said that National Records of Scotland had suffered a power cut that may affect the recording of data.

Tonight, new restrictions come into force on hospitality venues across Scotland where they must close by 10pm.