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Covid latest: Lockdown rule tightening sets new lowered numbers for meet ups


By David Porter

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The number of people allowed to meet up in Scotland has been cut to six amid concerns about coronavirus case numbers "accelerating".

It came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a tightening and extension of lockdown rules.

Changes planned for next week have been put back until at least 5 October.

The next steps of lockdown relaxation have been put on hold till October.
The next steps of lockdown relaxation have been put on hold till October.

It means that theatres, live music venues, indoor soft play facilities and indoor contact sports will not now open next Monday.

Until now, eight people from three households had been allowed to meet indoors in Scotland, and up to 15 from five households outdoors.

This will change to six people from two household, and will apply both indoors and outdoors - including in homes, gardens, pubs and restaurants.

Children under the age of 12 will not count towards the total, however.

The changes also mean spectators will not be able to return to sports stadia and other venues over the next three weeks - although two pilot events due take place at the weekend will still happen.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The latest data and analysis are telling us that we are now reaching or have reached the limit of what we can safely open up.

"Since the last review point on August 20 there have been a number of important developments in the epidemic.

"Several of the key indicators in Scotland including confirmed Covid-related deaths, hospital admissions and use of intensive care units (ICU) have remained very low.

"However, confirmed positive case numbers have risen to an average of over 150 per day, having been at around 50 per day at the last review point, and having averaged around 10-20 a day for most of July.

"In our current assessment of the status of the pandemic, we judge that we do not yet meet the criteria for progressing to Phase 4 of our Route Map, in which the virus will cease to be a significant threat to public health in Scotland."

Scotland is currently recording three times more positive cases of the virus on average each day than it was three weeks ago - with a further 161 cases being recorded in the last 24 hours.

Ms Sturgeon also said the reopening of offices and call centres will "definitely not take place" before October, saying that "for now, working from home will remain the default position".

The move to cut the number of people who can meet follows a similar move announced for England on Wednesday.

There will be "limited exceptions" to the rules for organised sports, places of worship and wedding and funeral services - which will be capped at 20 guests.

The new limits will officially come into force on Monday, although Ms Sturgeon said that she was asking people to immediately abide by the stricter new limits on gatherings.

It will also become mandatory for staff working in hospitality premises such as pubs and restaurants to wear face coverings, and for customers to wear them while moving around.

Ms Sturgeon admitted the new announcements would be "hard for people to hear", but said they were necessary.

She said the rise in new cases was "not as rapid as it was earlier in the year" and that prevalence of the virus was lower "thanks to the individual sacrifices that so any of you have made for the greater good".

She said: "We have grounds for cautious hope, but we have no grounds for complacency.

" It is vital to do everything we can to stop cases rising further before winter.



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