NICOLA Sturgeon has given Scots hope of a family Christmas this year, after she raised the prospect of some "leeway" over the strict coronavirus rules.

Her comments came as the UK Government’s medical adviser on Covid, Susan Hopkins, confirmed that there was a four-nation plan to make Christmas to be "as close to normal as possible".

Reports suggest that the UK's governments are considering a five-day run when households could mix to start on Christmas Eve.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said: “I want people to have the ability to see loved ones at Christmas. I want to see loved ones at Christmas. And we're determined to try to make that possible."

READ MORE: Covid in Scotland: 54 deaths recorded as total toll surpasses 5000

But she added, it had to be done in the safest way possible: “I want to do that in a way that also minimises the risk of me standing at this podium in late January, reporting really horrible numbers of people who have died because of infections that we've picked up over the Christmas period.

“Like so much with this virus we're trying to strike the right balance”

The First Minister said she had a four-nation call with other leaders this afternoon, where the festive period would almost certainly come up. 

Sturgeon said: “I do think at Christmas it is important that rather than leave people with restrictions that are so tight that many people will try to get around them in order to see loved ones, it is better to do what we've tried to do all along and treat people like grown ups.

“Say, ‘okay here is perhaps a bit of leeway that as long as we all behave responsibly within it allows us to have some time with loved ones at Christmas.’

“Now what the parameters are around that, what the numbers around that are, there are no decisions, but we do want to allow people, and it will be within limits undoubtedly. to see people that right now they're not able to see because of the very strict ban on household mixing. “

Ex-Sage scientist Prof Neil Ferguson told the BBC there are “ways of going part way” in allowing families to meet at Christmas without cases soaring.

"You could think of allowing three or four households to bubble together for a week but not contact anybody else, which would give more opportunity to see loved ones but not a free-for-all," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"And that, modelling would suggest, increases risk somewhat but in a controllable way."

This year, Christmas Eve falls on Thursday and there is a bank holiday on the following Monday, giving most workers at least a four-day break.

The First Minister accepted that for some families in Scotland, Hogmanay would be more important than Christmas. 

She said: “For many, bringing in new year is very important. For some families in Scotland that may be the time they get together, even more so than Christmas, so we do have to take that into account in our planning and we need to think across the whole festive period. 

“We haven't taken final decisions about what the overall limits we will try to encourage people to stick to are, but we need to recognise that there is only so much we can do, without allowing the virus to really take a grip of us again.

“We will have to come to sensible judgments and balances. Whether it's for Christmas alone, New Year alone, or across the two, none of us are going to be able to do everything that we would normally do at Christmas because it's just not going to be possible. 

“What we want to do is give people the ability to do as much as is possible, but without allowing the virus to take hold and take more lives  as we go into 2021.“