Nicola Sturgeon announces national lockdown in Scotland

"I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year"

A nationwide lockdown will be introduced in Scotland from midnight tonight (January 5) in a bid to halt rising levels of coronavirus infections, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The first minister said that people will be legally permitted to stay at home until the end of January, with schools remaining shut until the beginning of February at minimum.

Sturgeon said that increased transmissions of a new COVID-19 variant, which was first identified in the UK, mean that Tier 4 restrictions may not be sufficient in lowering Scotland’s R number to below 1.

“It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year,” she said.

“It is essential that we further limit interaction between different households to stem the spread and bring the situation back under control, while we vaccinate more people,” the first minister said.

“In short, we must return for a period to a situation much closer to the lockdown of last March.”

Addressing MSPs at Holyrood, she added: “We have an opportunity in Scotland to avert the situation here deteriorating to that extent. But we must act quickly.”

While it has yet to be confirmed if England will follow suit, millions in England were placed under stay-at-home orders from New Year’s Eve in order to help curb the outbreak.

All of the North East, Greater Manchester and large parts of the Midlands and the South West moved into Tier 4 from last Thursday (December 31).

The stay-at-home restrictions mean that non-essential shops will be closed and a strict one-to-one outdoor meeting limit between households will be implemented.

The infection rate in England rose by a third in the week leading up to Christmas Eve, while the number of coronavirus patients admitted to hospital rose by 8% the week before – to 14,915 people.