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Scots urged to ‘stay on your guard’ as virus cases hit highest number in weeks

Nicola Sturgeon’s warning comes as lockdown measures are eased further.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged caution as lockdown is eased further (PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged caution as lockdown is eased further (PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged caution as lockdown is eased further (PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has warned easing lockdown restrictions must not lead to Scots letting down their guard, as she revealed the highest number of new cases of the virus for three weeks.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister said 18 people have tested positive for Covid-19 since Wednesday- taking the total to 18,333.

While the number of new cases remains “very low”, she said, the rise is being “looked at very closely” and serves as a reminder the virus has not gone away.

But no new coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Scotland for the second day running, she added, and the total remains at 2,490.

There are 668 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, up 22 in the past 24 hours. Of these patients, 12 are in intensive care, a rise of three.

Several changes to lockdown measures came into force on Friday, including more people being able to meet up both indoors and out.

The two-metre physical distancing rule can now be relaxed in shops and on public transport, if further mitigation measures are in place, and masks are now mandatory in these areas.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This virus hasn’t gone away so life should still not feel totally normal.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

“The lifting of restrictions, important and welcome though it undoubtedly is, mustn’t mean the dropping of our guard, and that’s really important.

“We’ve been in lockdown for more than three months now but being in lockdown ourselves has meant that the virus has also been in lockdown.

“As we come out of lockdown, unfortunately we let it out again too. So we have to work in a sense even harder to make sure that it doesn’t get those opportunities to spread.”

She urged people to “think even more carefully” about the steps they could take to prevent the disease spreading.

Ms Sturgeon also announced that from next Wednesday, the number of people who can attend a wedding or civil partnership ceremony or a funeral will rise to 20.

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Face coverings are now mandatory in all shops and on public transport (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Face coverings are now mandatory in all shops and on public transport (Andrew Milligan/PA)

PA

Face coverings are now mandatory in all shops and on public transport (Andrew Milligan/PA)

But the changes apply only to the ceremonies and not any linked events such as receptions or wakes.

She also said the limit of 20 people is subject to “strict rules on physical distancing”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We know that the restrictions on funeral services in particular have been incredibly tough – in many cases utterly heartbreaking.

“I hope this change is a welcome one, though of course it still doesn’t permit full-scale gatherings for weddings, civil partnerships or funerals.”

Detailed guidance has also been released for hairdressers, which can open from Wednesday.

PA