NICOLA Sturgeon has asked people living in level 4 areas to stay at home as much as possible for the next three weeks.

The First Minister made the plea to the 2.3 million Scots residents in 11 council areas which will be placed on the toughest tier of restrictions at 6pm this evening.

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, she highlighted that much of the most populated parts of the country would be moving to level 4 tonight.

She set out the main curbs in level 4 which will include the closure of non-essential shops, bars and restaurants and hairdressers.

And she stated: "We are asking you to stay at home as much as possible. Reducing interaction with other people ... is how we will bring infection rates down and the more we down that the faster we hope these rates will come down."

READ MORE: Covid in Scotland: 32 deaths recorded over 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon says

She added that people should also not be visiting people in each others' homes  - as is the requirement for people living in most other areas of Scotland - though she said people can go outdoors to meet up within the limits of six people from two households.

The First Minister also highlighted the new legal travel ban, which MSPs passed last night.

It will ban travel both to and from level 3 and level 4 areas as well as to and from Scotland from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

"Also from 6pm today the guidance we have given about non essential travel in recent weeks will becomes law. This means if you live in a level 3 or level 4 area you mustn't travel from your own local authority area unless it is for an essential purpose," she said.

"There must also be no non essential travel from Scotland to other parts of the UK or the Republic of Ireland."

She added: "There is a lot of attention, rightly, understandably on this aspect of our restrictions in Scotland. We are asking people by law not to travel to England unless it is essential.

The National:

"But remember travel restrictions have been in place in Wales for some time where it is already not permitted under the law to go to Wales if you live in other parts of the UK.

"And right now the restriction in England is do not leave your home. These are tough restrictions but we are not alone in having to live with them as we seek to control this virus."

The First Minister announced on Tuesday that 11 council areas across western and central Scotland would move onto level 4 from 6pm this evening.

They are Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East and South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian. Some 2.3m people live in these areas.