LOCKDOWN restrictions will remain in place across mainland Scotland and some island communities “until at least the middle of February”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said the tough rules are “beginning to have an impact” but stressed case numbers remain “very high”.
She said the pressure on the NHS is already acute, with around 2,000 coronavirus patients currently in hospital.
School closures extended until mid-February
This is around 30 per cent more than during the peak of the first wave last April, she said.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It is for all these reasons that the Cabinet decided this morning to maintain the restrictions which are currently in place.
“That means that the lockdown restrictions – including the strict stay at
home requirement – will remain in place across mainland Scotland and
some island communities until at least the middle of February.”
She said the Cabinet will review the situation again on February 2.
Ms Sturgeon said Barra and Vatersay will move into lockdown from Wednesday following a sharp increase in infection rates.
However the rest of the Western Isles will remain in level three.
The First Minister said: “Any relaxation of lockdown while case numbers remain high, even though they might be declining, could quickly send the situation into reverse.
“We believe that the lockdown restrictions – and the sacrifices everyone continues to make – are beginning to have an impact. However, it is important to be cautious.
“I continue to be very grateful to people across the country for their patience and resilience in the face of this extraordinary challenge.
“At the moment, lockdown is the best way of keeping each other safe, as vaccination continues. It is how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.”