THE First Minister has signalled nationwide curbs on visiting other households and new restrictions on the hospitality sector may be among the new lockdown restrictions to come into force within the next 24 hours.

Nicola Sturgeon said she would outline the details of the measures in Holyrood this afternoon after a Cobra meeting with UK Government officials in the morning as the country sees a spike in coronavirus cases.

She tweeted: “Four UK CMOs – inc @DrGregorSmith – agree raising of #Covid_19 alert level to four. I’ll participate in COBR meeting tomorrow am, after which @scotgov Cabinet will agree measures to bring virus back under control in Scotland. I’ll then offer statement to @ScotParl tomorrow PM.”

It comes as Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, accused Boris Johnson of deserting his post at one of the “most critical points” of the pandemic as there was very little discussion between London and the devolved governments.

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Questioned about what the new restrictions could be, Sturgeon hinted they may focus on indoor settings relating to visiting other households and to the hospitality sector.

“Given what we know about the nature of transmission, the biggest risk at the moment is household to household. When this virus gets into a household it is very likely to infect everybody or most people in that household, even if it’s a younger person that is the first one to be infected if there are older people in the household they are likely to be infected,” she said.

“That’s why we reduced households gathering to six two weeks ago and obviously other indoor areas where people are likely to be gathering together. Clearly that brings into scope hospitality, and these are areas we are looking carefully at as well.”

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Chief medical officer Gregor Smith suggested that other areas were also a cause for concern in the transmission of the virus including travelling in Scotland, around the UK and internationally.

“The overwhelming strongest signal that we are getting from people when we are speaking to them is the strong association with domestic settings, household gathering, particularly between families at social events.” he said.

“But we’re also getting signals from other areas, a gradually increasing signal from some areas of hospitality… also work related cases and travel related cases, and those might be travel within Scotland or travel to other parts of the UK or international. These are the areas where we are starting to see the association coming through in the data.”

Currently, people living in seven west central Scotland local authority areas are banned from visiting other households.

Last week these restrictions, which apply in Glasgow , East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire, were extended.

The First Minister earlier told the pandemic briefing, which returned to be broadcast on the BBC, that she was closely considering a number of measures with a decision to be taken very soon. “The Scottish Cabinet will meet tomorrow to take stock and I am very clear it must be in a position to decide the way ahead for Scotland within the next 48 hours,” she said.

“I need to be absolutely straight with people that additional restrictions will be put in place over the next couple of days. Hopefully this will be with four nations alignment but if necessary it will have to happen without that.”

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The First Minister said confirmed coronavirus cases in Scotland have risen by 255 in the past 24 hours and that 24,627 people have now tested positive for the Covid 19.

She said that “doing nothing in the face of the rapid spread is not an option”.

Sturgeon said: “In my view, further and urgent action will now be needed to stop the increase in the number of cases. I and my advisers have spent the weekend immersed in discussion and analysis, looking at a variety of options and considering carefully the impact that we judged these would have.”

While the measures are still being considered, the First Minister said they are “very close to a point of decision”.

She added: “At the heart of this decision is a simple truth, the longer we wait to introduce new measures, the longer these measures are likely to be in place. If we move sharply now to get the virus back under control we can minimise the time we all spend under any new restrictions.”

During the briefing she also warned people in Scotland are “likely to face” some coronavirus restrictions for a further six months.

She stressed this did not mean all the new nationwide curbs she will announce within the coming 24 hours will be in place over the six-month timescale. But she added it was likely some restrictions would be in place during the course of that period.

“So the six month period is the length of time we are all likely to be living with some of the restrictions but it is not necessarily going to be the same restrictions with the same severity for the duration of that period,” she said.

Meanwhile, people forced to self-isolate due to Covid-19 will be offered financial support, the First Minister said. She confirmed the additional assistance but said the details have yet to be finalised.

She said: “Self-isolation is a key tool in our fight against this virus, it helps us break the chains of transmission, so we must make it as possible as we can for people to abide by that advice.”

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