SCOTTISH Tory leader Douglas Ross has said that lockdown measures imposed in Scotland over the festive period were “unnecessary” - despite spiraling Covid cases and a warning from the British Medical Association (BMA).

It followed calls from his party earlier in the week to have face masks in schools, all business restrictions including vaccine passports, and all guidance on household mixing and social distancing scrapped from January 31.

The Tories also called for working from home guidance and self-isolation rules to be phased out.

However, the BMA warned on Wednesday that such moves would “inevitably” lead to increased hospitalisations and incidences of long Covid, and further “crippling” pressure on the NHS. They said any decision to do so would "clearly" not be led by the data.

Speaking at Holyrood on Thursday, the Scottish Tory leader said that imposing tougher restrictions in the face of the Omicron variant had been the “wrong call”.

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that he had taken an “entirely opportunistic approach to the handling of a global pandemic”, the Scottish Tory leader went on: “It is not opportunistic to trust that the people of Scotland can learn to live with Covid rather than having to live with her Government’s restrictions.”

Separately, he said: “The First Minister imposed restrictions that had a massive impact on jobs, businesses and people’s mental and physical health, but we can now see that they were not needed.

“It was the Scottish public’s actions, not the SNP government’s restrictions, that got this right. The First Minister has tried to build a reputation for caution during the pandemic, but she was far too gung-ho in imposing extra restrictions last month.”

READ MORE: WATCH: Nicola Sturgeon tears into Douglas Ross over double standards at FMQs

On December 15, the UK broke the record for the most Covid cases recorded in a single day.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned the UK was facing “two epidemics on top of one another”. He warned: “We have to be realistic that records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks as the rates continue to go up.”

On December 18, Independent Sage's Professor Stephen Reicher warned: "We need to act now."

However, while the devolved nations moved to impose restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant, England’s Tory government did not.

Data later released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that Covid infection rates were lower in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales across the festive period than they were in England.

ONS data shows that as many as one in 15 people in England had the coronavirus in the week ending December 31. In Wales and Scotland it was one in 20, and in Northern Ireland one in 25.

This remained the case through the week ending January 6, ONS data shows, with Northern Ireland also reaching a peak of one in 20 people infected.

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that England would look to phase out the use of face masks altogether, along with self-isolation periods for positive cases, Covid passports, and the requirement to work from home.

The British Medical Association’s council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, called the announcement “premature”.

“This decision clearly is not guided by the data,” he said.

“Removing all restrictions risks a rebound in the number of infections across society, would inevitably increase hospitalisation rates, further destabilise patient care and drive up the rate of staff absences and the number of people with long Covid.

“We recognise the implications of restrictions on our society, but equally we have seen the impact of the failure to control the virus on the economy, business and education.”

Speaking in Holyrood, Sturgeon said: “The price of throwing caution to the wind is not paid by governments; the price of throwing caution to the wind is paid by people across the country in ill health and, in some cases, serious illness and death.

“I do not think that I should impose that price on the people of Scotland.”

Scottish Greens health spokesperson Gillian Mackay said the removal of restrictions was a “completely reckless” move, and suggested the decision had only been taken south of the Border “to deflect from the overwhelming cries for the Prime Minister to resign”.