A BAN on meeting indoors at home in Lanarkshire will come into force at midnight after a spike in coronavirus cases.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced both North and South Lanarkshire – some 660,00 people – face the tough new restrictions.
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It means some 1.75million people now face localised lockdowns after coronavirus restrictions were tightened up in Scotland.
The new rules for Lanarkshire will be place for at least a week and mean people will be barred from having visitors to their homes.
The only exemptions are for those within extended household group bubbles.
Ms Sturgeon described the new measures as “deeply regrettable” but said the data showed the Scottish government had to “act now”.
Since September 4, 205 positive cases of coronavirus have been identified by track and trace services in Lanarkshire.
It comes after lockdown restrictions in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire were continued for a further week on Monday, having first been introduced on September 1.
The area covered by the rules was extended to Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire on Monday.
Households are also prohibited from visiting homes in other local authorities not under the restrictions.
Indoor visits to hospitals and care homes are limited to essential visits only in these areas to protect the most vulnerable.
Britain is facing a surge in coronavirus cases as the R number crept above 1 as cases hit a four month high today with 3,539.
The First Minister said: “It is clearly regrettable that these restrictions need to be extended to people living in Lanarkshire.
“I understand that this will not be welcome news for people living in these areas, especially ahead of the weekend, but we must act now to protect people and get more control over the virus in the area.”
She added: “I would ask everyone in the affected areas to be extra vigilant, to follow all guidance and to isolate and book a test if they have any symptoms.
“Above all, I want to emphasise that getting a test – and even getting a negative result – is not a substitute for self-isolating”
Ms Sturgeon announced a restriction on Thursday that no more than six people from two households were allowed to meet – but children under the age of 12 do not count towards the total.
The First Minister said today she asked for more clarification on this, such as whether it would be possible for children to meet such as for birthday parties.
Plans to reopen live music venues, theatres and soft play centres have also been shelved until at least October 5 after they had been due to reopen on Monday.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed NHS Scotland will remain on emergency footing until at least the end of March in 2021.
Health boards across the country are had been working to reintroduce services that had to be halted at the height of the pandemic.
Ms Freeman said: “I am mindful of the challenges that winter is likely to bring over the coming months, including seasonal flu and bad weather.”
And while she said the NHS had now begun “safely and incrementally resuming some services”, the Health Secretary added that “the reality is coronavirus is likely to be with us for some time to come”.
She said the health boards would “continue to work on safely resuming services whilst protecting Covid-19 capacity”.
Yesterday, the Scottish government also unveiled its new tracing app called Protect Scotland which uses proximity sensors to alert people if they are at risk from the coronavirus.
The app uses Bluetooth technology to alert people if they have had prolonged contact with someone who has since tested positive for Covid-19.
The UK’s rise in coronavirus cases comes less than a week after the UK recorded more than 3,000 cases for two days running.
But the high number could be down to more tests being carried out each day as the government ramps up its programme.
The Department of Health figures also show six more deaths have been recorded in 24 hours – bringing the total death toll to 41,614.
The latest victims were aged between 79 and 88 with all having underlying health conditions.
It comes ahead of new laws being imposed from midnight on Sunday banning more than six people meeting as the government tries to surpress the virus.
The “rule of six” means large groups will not be able to gather in private homes, parks, pubs and restaurants.
People caught breaking the rules will be slapped with £100 fines, doubling for each repeat offence up to £3,200.
Meanwhile, so-called “Covid Marshals” will also be brought in to enforce social distancing in city centres.