Pubs and bars will be told to close between the hours of 6pm and 6am in Scotland as part of emergency coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The sale of alcohol in indoor hospitality venues across Scotland are set to be banned for at least 16 days from Friday at 6pm as part of plans announced by the First Minister.
Outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to remain open up until 10pm and will be allowed to sell alcohol up to that time.
Hotels will be allowed to trade outside these hours to serve food to guests.
Masks will become mandatory in work canteens and corridors.
In the areas of Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley the restrictions will be even tighter.
There people have been asked to avoid public transport “unless absolutely necessary”.
All pubs, bars and restaurants in those areas have been told to close if they have an alcohol license, although takeaways will be permitted.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “Let me be clear. We are not going back into lockdown today.
“We are not closing schools, colleges or universities.
“We are not halting the remobilisation of the NHS for non-Covid care. And we are not asking people to stay at home.
“So while the measures I announce today will feel like a backward step, they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall.
“It is by taking the tough but necessary action now, that we hope to avoid even tougher action in future.”
She said that “without action” Scotland could return to levels of coronavirus seen in the Spring “by the end of the month”.
Yesterday 1054 new cases were confirmed in Scotland, with 319 patients in hospital.
One person died in the last 24 hours.
But holidays will be allowed to continue, as will visits to family attractions during halfterm.
Ms Sturgeon added that it is important that people don’t forget that advances that had been made.
“Cases are rising but not as quickly as in March, and we now have test and protect teams across the country doing exceptional work,” she said.
The Scottish Government will offer “financial compensation” to the hospitality sector
It is understood there will be exceptions for “significant life events” such as wedding receptions and funeral wakes, to allow these to continue in line with current rules.
People who shield have been told to “take extra care” but to return to shielding.
Schools will not be closed and people will not be given the same strict “stay at home” measures in March.
The two-week lockdown will take effect from this Friday, designed to cover Scotland’s half-term, starting this Friday.
There is already a ban on meeting people from outside your own household indoors in Scotland.
The rolling 7-day average number of daily cases has soared from 285 in Scotland two weeks ago to 729.
Ms Sturgeon told a daily briefing yesterday that she had been given “very strong” public health advice that tougher measures would be needed to deal with skyrocketing cases of coronavirus.
“The situation is not out of control, but it is a cause of concern,” the First Minister added.
Professor of child heath and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, Calum Semple, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said a “circuit-breaker” lockdown could help stem the growing tide of infections.
Professor Semple told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “perhaps a circuit breaker a couple of weeks ago would have been really good idea”.
He added: “It’s always easier to reduce an outbreak at the earlier stage than to let it run and then try to reduce it at a later stage.
“So, yes, circuit breakers are certainly something we should be thinking about on a national basis.”
Emma McClarkin, of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “If the Scottish Government is to implement further harsh restrictive measures to our sector, it must include a dedicated package of support alongside it.
“Without it, the Scottish Government will leave our pubs and thousands of jobs doomed to failure.”
Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said a targeted approach would work better than bringing in “more draconian rules”.
“At the moment we do not need to bring in any more rules that will hammer the hospitality sector, or the economy at large. There needs to be a razor-sharp focus on getting the current systems running smoothly and effectively,” he wrote in The Sun.
“We need to hold our nerve, rather than hitting the panic button.”