Mainland Scotland will enter a lockdown similar to that of March last year from midnight tonight with the stay at home rule to once more become a legal requirement.
The lockdown will last for the rest of January and has been brought in to counter the new variant of coronavirus, which first minister Nicola Sturgeon said already accounted for almost half of all new cases in Scotland.
Scottish hospitality businesses on mainland Scotland are already closed as it was placed under level 4 restrictions last year. Islands in level 3 will remain under these same restrictions for now, although Sturgeon said this would be carefully monitored. In these areas hospitality premises can open but alcohol sales are not permitted, a 6pm curfew is in place and a maximum of six people from two households can meet together in venues both indoors and outdoors.
Under the new lockdown, people will only be permitted to leave home for essential purposes and must work from home if able to do so; a maximum of two people from two households will be permitted to meet outdoors; and workplace canteens will have to ensure that employees sit two metres apart rather than one metre.
Funerals, weddings and civil partnerships can continue to take place, with up to 20 permitted to attend funerals and a maximum of five for weddings and civil partnerships. The Scottish government has also decided to keep schools closed until 1 February.
Sturgeon said she would not rule out extending the lockdown or introducing further changes to restrictions, but added that the government would not keep these restrictions in place any longer than is necessary.
She said the situation was "extremely serious" and that due to a steeply rising trend of infections, she was "more concerned about the situation now than at any time since March last year".
Sturgeon added: "Our clear and overriding duty is to act quickly to save lives and protect the NHS." England is also expected to see tougher restrictions announced very soon.