NICOLA Sturgeon has delivered an address to the Scottish Parliament outlining the changes to the current Covid restrictions which will be in place over the festive season.

The spread of Omicron, which the First Minister said is "more rapid than anything experienced in the pandemic so far", has necessitated more stringent measures to protect public health.

Unlike 2020, this year will not see legal barriers preventing people from mixing with their loved ones over Christmas. However, several key changes have been brought in.

Here's what you need to know about the Covid rules which will be in effect over Christmas in Scotland.

Can I see my friends and family face to face at Christmas?

Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to be clear that she is "not asking anyone to ‘cancel’ Christmas".

However, she called on the public to reduce "as far as possible, and to a minimum" the contact with people in other households.

While no restrictions on socialising will be put into law, the Government is asking people to "limit the number of households represented in your group to a maximum of three".

They are further asking that people take lateral flow tests before they go to a social event.

The First Minister said there would be a slight dispensation in place for "Christmas Day specifically – or Christmas Eve or Boxing Day or whenever you have your main family celebration".

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon asks Scots to minimise household contacts amid Omicron rise

She said: "We are not asking you to cancel or change your plans, and we are not proposing limits on the size of household gatherings. Places of worship will also remain open, with appropriate mitigations.

"But we will issue guidance to help you make Christmas safer."

She said that limiting social contact in the run-up to Christmas, keeping celebrations as small as possible, ensuring everyone is vaccinated and has done a recent test, following hygiene rules, and keeping rooms ventilated would all help to make the festive period safer.

The National: Pfizer vaccine dose

Should I get a third "booster" jag?

Every adult in Scotland has been urged to get a third Covid vaccine - if they have not yet done so - by the end of December.

The First Minister said that 46% of Scotland's population over aged 12 has had a booster vaccination - and that the target is to have this at 80% by the new year.

In efforts to accelerate the booster roll-out, all 18 to 29-year-olds will be able to book a third jag online from tomorrow (Wednesday 15).

All 30 to 39-year-olds are already able to book their booster jags, while anyone aged between 40 and 60 who hasn’t already booked an appointment, should now have received an invitation to do so.

It must be at least 12 weeks since the second dose for a third dose to be administered.

The First Minister also noted that the new year would see all 12-17-year-olds offered a second dose, and that she hoped regulatory approval would be granted to vaccinate children under 12.

Should I be working from home?

If you can, you should now be working from home.

The First Minister said that employers who are able to have their staff work remotely will have a "legal duty" to do so. 

For people in sectors where this is not possible, the Government will ask them to "test regularly before going to work".

Sturgeon told MSPs that the workplace testing scheme, which delivers lateral flow kits twice a week to all businesses who have signed up, would be extended.

"I would encourage any business with 10 or more employees to join up, and encourage staff to test regularly," she added.

What about going Christmas shopping?

The National: Covid at Christmas

Shops will remain open through the festive period, but the First Minister said that a "legal requirement" would be imposed on business this week to ensure they are taking "measures which are reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of transmission".

Sturgeon said that guidance on the exact meaning of this would be issued in the coming days, but said that it might mean "a return to the kind of protections in place at the start of the pandemic".

Retail outlets may need to bring in protective screens, crowd control at shop entrances, and physical distancing rules.

Hospitality businesses will be asked to avoid crowding and to collect contact tracing details.

What are the rules on self-isolation?

Anyone who is in the household of a person who tests positive for Covid-19 must now self-isolate for 10 days.

This rule, which has been brought in since Omicron was identified as a key risk, applies to everyone in the household regardless of age, vaccination status or PCR test result.

However, the First Minister said that businesses and organisations "providing vital services can apply for an exemption to allow essential workers to return to work, subject to them being symptom-free and taking certain precautions, including daily lateral flow tests".

The Scottish Government has also made £100 million available to fund Self-Isolation Support Grants for those who need it.

Nicola Sturgeon this has been brought in "given the expected increase in the number of eligible people asked to isolate".