THE First Minister tonight addressed the nation to inform them of major changes coming to their daily lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nicola Sturgeon spoke from Bute House at 6pm, after the Prime Minister and Chancellor had addressed the UK on measures to control the spread of the virus.

The SNP leader informed Scots that pubs, restaurants and cafes will be closed from tonight in the effort to fight off the coronavirus.

Bars, clubs, theatres, leisure centres and gyms will also be closed in the new package of measures. 

The First Minister said: "We've asked people to stay away from crowded places like pubs, restaurants, and cinemas, but I can confirm that in light of advice this afternoon, from our scientists and the Chief Medical Officer, that there must be strict compliance for that to be effective. 

"I am now asking, restaurants, cafes pubs, gyms and cinemas, to close. I know how difficult this is, but it is vital to reduce our risk of getting the virus, and to reduce the risk of infecting those who are most vulnerable of becoming seriously ill or dying. 

"In short, it will save lives. It also gives our NHS the best chance of coping."

She said her own sister and sister-in-law work for the NHS, and the debt of gratitude owed to NHS workers is "enormous".

Commenting on the mental wellbeing of the nation during self-isolation, she said: "To older people – we are asking you to stay away from your grandkids, from the people you love. That’s hard. But it is for your protection – so you can stay around to see them grow up.

"To children – I know this is a strange time. You’re away from school, and won’t be able to spend as much time with friends. The adults around you are probably feeling a bit anxious too. So help them. Follow their advice. Study and do your homework. But don’t forget to have fun. And wash your hands."

She went on: "We are entering stormy waters, and I can’t tell you yet when we will reach dry land. I can promise you that as your First Minister, I will do my utmost to lead us safely through.

"But I need your help. I need you to follow health advice. And I need you to look out for those around you.

"There’s no doubt that difficult days do lie ahead. But I close on a note of hope and belief. This crisis is reminding us just how fragile our world is.

"But it is also reminding us what really matters – health, love, solidarity.

"With compassion and kindness – and with the dedication and expertise of our NHS – we can and we will get through this. Thank you, for all you are doing to help."