Scotland will be plunged into a new national lockdown from midnight tonight for the rest of January – with schools closed.
In a move that will heap pressure on Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon unveiled tougher measures to curb spiralling infection rates.
Schools across Scotland will stay closed until at least February, the First Minister told MSPs
The Christmas holidays had been extended until January 11, with online learning until January 15 – but children were expected to resume face-to-face lessons on January 18.
Ms Sturgeon confirmed schools will now be shut to the majority of pupils – all those except vulnerable kids and key workers’ children – until February 1.
That includes nurseries, primary and secondary schools.
The move will ratchet up pressure on Mr Johnson to shut schools in England, which began reopening on Monday for primary school children.
Ms Sturgeon also announce a legal stay-at-home order, except for essential reasons such as shopping, caring responsibilities and exercise.
People must work from home if they cannot do it from home, similar to the first lockdown.
Adults will only be allowed to meet one other person from another household outside, although children can still mix in playgrounds.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.”
The measures are in place until the end of January – but the First Minister said she could not rule out extending them if necessary.
NHS capacity is already beginning to buckle under the strain, she said, with NHS Ayrshire and Arran at 96% capacity, while Borders, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire are above 60%.
According to modelling by the Scottish Government, she said hospitals would be overrun within “three or four weeks” if no action is taken.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We have an opportunity in Scotland to avert the situation here deteriorating to that extent. But we must act quickly.”
The Scottish Parliament was recalled to discuss the imminent restrictions on Monday.