Nicola Sturgeon has asked all restaurants, cafes, pubs and cinemas in Scotland to close, in the latest bid to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking in a televised address from Bute House in Edinburgh, the First Minister warned the number of Covid-19 cases is “set to rise sharply”.
She said everyone must act now to slow the spread of the virus, adding that we must also reduce the number of people we meet and come into contact with.
The new advice was given after discussions with scientists and chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood.
Those who work in our health and social care services will be tested like never beforeNicola Sturgeon
Ms Sturgeon said: “I know how difficult this is. But it is vital to reduce our risk of getting the virus.
“And to reduce the risk of infecting those who are most vulnerable of becoming seriously ill or dying. In short, it will save lives.
“It also gives our NHS the best chance of coping. We’ve put the NHS on an emergency footing. We’re taking steps to increase the capacity of our hospitals and intensive care wards.
“But those who work in our health and social care services will be tested like never before.
“Most of us have friends and family working in the NHS – my own sister and sister-in-law are among them. The debt of gratitude we owe all of them is enormous.
“The Scottish Government will do all we can to support you.
“As government, we are asking you to take unprecedented steps. So the level of support we provide to you must be unprecedented in return.”
During her address the First Minister spoke specifically to both ends of the population in a bid to convey how to continue life as the country is “entering stormy waters”.
She said: “To older people – we are asking you to stay away from your grandkids, from the people you love.
“That’s hard. But it is for your protection, so you can stay around to see them grow up.
“To children – I know this is a strange time. You’re away from school, and won’t be able to spend as much time with friends.
“The adults around you are probably feeling a bit anxious too. So help them. Follow their advice. Study and do your homework. But don’t forget to have fun. And wash your hands.
“Modern technology is sometimes a curse, it can now be a lifeline.
“Phone or Skype loved ones. Text neighbours or drop a note through their door to see if they need help. Maybe even write a letter to your grandparents.”
Ms Sturgeon also told people to support their local businesses where possible, “but please, do not panic buy”.
Earlier on Friday she had suggested Scots could face “even stricter and more difficult” measures to help curb the spread.
Dr Calderwood also said there is “evidence of sustained community transmission across Scotland”.
She later added: “Covid-19 is the biggest challenge of our lifetimes, and with the number of cases set to rise sharply we must do all we can to slow it down and save lives.
“As well as continuing to wash hands more regularly and self-isolating if you or anyone in your house has any symptoms, we must also limit the number of people we come into contact with.
“That is why, in light of updated advice, we are now asking restaurants, cafes, pubs, gyms and cinemas to close.
“I know how difficult this is, but it is vital in reducing the spread of the virus.
“Most people have been following advice and guidance and we thank them for that.
“But these measures are being introduced to ensure that everyone follows the guidance which will, ultimately, save lives.”