NICOLA Sturgeon has pleaded with Scots not to go to the pub.

Sacrificing a night out, she said, can save people’s lives.

Complying with government guidance on tackling the coronavirus would, she added, help the country get through the outbreak sooner.

Sturgeon also didn’t rule out using powers coming to the Government through the emergency coronavirus bill to force the closure of pubs and restaurants.

Her comments came as the boss of Wetherspoons said talk of bars being closed to prevent the spread of Covid19 was "over the top".

Tim Martin told Sky News pubs should stay open "for the duration".

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Number of cases rises to 322 – but no further deaths

Speaking at today’s Scottish Government briefing, Sturgeon said: “I know that there will be some of you who might be wanting to head out to the pub for a final night out or looking forward to a meal out with friends, but my guidance to you is clear and crystal clear, please do not do this.

“You must not consider this vital health advice to be merely optional. Now, let me say candidly and frankly that I know people don't like to be told what to do by politicians and in normal times. I might not blame you for not wanting to be told what to do by a politician, but please understand and believe me when I say that this is vital.

“It is vital for your own protection. It is vital for the protection of your loved ones, particularly if amongst those there are older, or more vulnerable people.

“It’s vital for the protection of our NHS and its ability to care for those who will need it in the weeks to come. It is vital for the protection of all of us, and it is vital to help us save lives.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus testing to quadruple in Scotland says Nicola Sturgeon

Asked about a lockdown, to close pubs and restaurants, Sturgeon said she would consider using powers coming to the Government that would allow her to do that "responsibly" if necessary.

"I am saying very clearly that it should not be assumed that what we are asking people to do now will not become even stricter and more difficult in future," she said.

Meanwhile, in his interview, Wetherspoons boss Martin said pubs were far quieter than supermarkets: "Our aim is for pubs open for the duration. This could go on for a long time.

The National: Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin, pictured with Boris Johnson, says his pubs will stay open 'for the duration'Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin, pictured with Boris Johnson, says his pubs will stay open 'for the duration'

"I think that once you shut them down it's very difficult.

"Supermarkets are very, very crowded. Pubs are much less crowded. There's hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs and I think it's over the top to shut them.

"That's a commercial view but also a common sense view."

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Man arrested in UK for not self-isolating

The doctor and comedian Adam Kay was scathing about Martin’s comments. He tweeted: “In a few weeks’ time we will all look back and ask “What more could I have done?” For most of us, we will realise we should have done more distancing.

“For this guy, the answer will be that he put profit over lives. Close your pubs and pay your staff while they’re stood down.”