Nicola Sturgeon has announced new lockdown restrictions across Scotland as the number of people testing positive for coronavirus continues to rise.
The First Minister told MSPs the country must remain in phase 3 of lockdown for now and would likely remain so “for some time to come”.
The SNP leader also revealed a range of new restrictions on social gatherings aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
From Monday, there will be a new limit of six people from two households allowed to meet socially – a rule that covers meetings in homes as well as in pubs and restaurants.
She said there will be some limited exceptions, including organised sports and places of worship, and children under 12 will not count towards the limit.
Previously, people could meet in groups of up to eight from three households indoors and 15 from five households outdoors.
The limit of 20 people for funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will remain and will also apply to wakes and receptions.
The reopening of sports stadiums to supporters has also been pushed back to next month at the earliest.
Customers in hospitality businesses will also be expected to wear face coverings when entering pubs and restaurants before taking their seats.
“I know that making those choices – keeping our distance from friends, staying in small groups indoors, washing our hands regularly – gets harder and more tiresome as time passes,” Sturgeon told MSPs.
“But they are more important now than they have been for months.”
The decision also affects theatres, live music venues and indoor soft play facilities.
Sturgeon said given the rise in Covid-19 cases – which increased by 161 in the past 24 hours to 22,039 – putting these moves back is “the only responsible decision we can reach”.
She added the reopening of call centres and offices where staff are still working from home will “definitely not take place” before October 1 – when this will be reviewed.
“For now, working from home will remain the default position,” she told MSPs.
She also made it clear the new rules on social gatherings applied to homes and not just businesses.
“Let me also re-emphasise the new limit of six people from two households will apply in restaurants, pubs and beer gardens, as well as in our homes,” she added.
“We hope that by reducing the risk of transmission in those settings, it will help to keep the sector open.”
The First Minister said the rise in cases was not wholly unexpected as more businesses reopened and people began to travel more, with 96% of firms north of the Border now trading again.
Students are also now returning to colleges and universities following the reopening of schools last month.
The First Minister had earlier urged people to download the new confidential coronavirus contact tracing app which has now gone live.
It aims to allow tracing of a wider range of contacts by using mobile phones to detect who has been in close proximity with a positive case.
Sturgeon tweeted on Thursday: “There’s a new way to help fight Covid in Scotland. ‘Protect Scotland’ – our confidential contact tracing app – will anonymously notify app users you’ve been in close contact with, should you test positive. Please download, and let’s all protect Scotland.”