The First Minister announced it was ‘likely’ families will be able to form extended household bubbles for Christmas but warned rules could only be eased ‘for a few days.’
The famous new year merrymaking north of the border often continues throughout January 1 and can even run into January 2 – which is a Scottish bank holiday.
But Ms Sturgeon, a champion of Scots traditions, has insisted that a ‘sensible balance’ must be struck between stopping the disease and allowing families to come together.
Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said: ‘We have to consider that the tradition of Hogmanay and New Year’s Day dinner is more established in
‘And why not? Because we can’t do everything. Christmas is hard enough.
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, today said it is ‘likely’ that coronavirus rules will be eased ‘for a few days’ at Christmas to allow people to form extended household bubble
‘Why Christmas and not New Year? Well, Christmas is a more important time for kids. Christmas is likely to be when families don’t want to leave someone on their own.
‘We can’t do everything right now.
‘People have to understand that Christmas may be a big enough ask for us, and may involve difficult enough decisions without extending to another part of the festive period.’
She added that a reduction in
She acknowledged relaxing the rules would split public opinion and cause ‘a lot of anxiety’ because of a risk of increasing case numbers at a time when ‘we’re starting to see the end of this pandemic loom on the horizon’.
But she insisted the approach taken will strike a ‘sensible balance’ between curbing the disease and allowing people to see their loved ones.
However, the SNP leader said she is not expecting the relaxation of measures to cover the New Year period.
Boris Johnson is due to formally set out a UK-wide plan for Christmas in the coming days.
The four home nations have in recent weeks been engaged in talks to try to agree a single set of rules for the festive period so people will be able to travel across the country to meet up with their family.
Mr Johnson is expected to soon spell out the basis of plans which will allow small numbers of households across the UK to mix during the holidays.
Ms Sturgeon said the details are yet to be finalised but she confirmed it is ‘likely’ extended household bubbles will be allowed over Christmas.
She said: ‘Reducing the prevalence of the virus is also what will allow us to consider a slight and careful – and I want to stress today those words ‘slight’ and ‘careful’ – easing of the rules for a few days over the festive period.
‘There is an obvious desire to see loved ones at Christmas, I think we all feel that very strongly.
‘There’s also a lot of anxiety about the potential risks associated with that, particularly at a time when we’re starting to see, perhaps, the end of this pandemic loom on the horizon.
‘So we’re trying as hard as we can to reach a sensible balance, although it is possible – likely, in fact – that some households may be able to form slightly larger bubbles with each other for a short period over Christmas.
‘We’re considering this because we recognise that isolation and loneliness can hit people particularly hard over the Christmas period.’
Ms Sturgeon said there is a recognition that – given the nature of Christmas and pressure people may feel to spend time with family members who may be alone over the period – some may ‘try to push the boundaries’ of restrictions.
She said rather than allow that to be ‘uncontrolled’, the Scottish Government is trying to build in flexibility during the holidays.
Her comments on Christmas, made during the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 update, came as Ms Sturgeon announced East Lothian will move from Level Three to Level Two of coronavirus restrictions from Friday.
‘Last week we indicated that East Lothian and Midlothian – if there was no deterioration in their positions – would, from tomorrow, move down from Level Three to Level Two,’ she said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set out a UK-wide approach to the Christmas period later this week
‘I can confirm that this will go ahead for East Lothian. However, the national incident management team has expressed some concern this morning about a rise in cases and test positivity over the past few days in Midlothian.
‘So we will be considering that further this afternoon and we will confirm the position in relation to Midlothian later.’
Ms Sturgeon said the ‘overwhelming majority of local authority areas will remain in the current level’ of restrictions.
The First Minister will deliver a statement updating the restrictions to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.
Currently, 11 council areas are at Level Four – the highest tier of restrictions for Scotland.
The latest coronavirus figures for Scotland show 949 people tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, with no new deaths recorded.