18:44 GMT29 September 2020
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    As the United Kingdom eased lockdown restrictions imposed to slow the rate of coronavirus infections, new cases have begun to spike across the country. As a result, Westminster announced earlier this week that England would reintroduce some distancing measures.

    Social gatherings will be limited to a maximum of six people from two households in Scotland, both indoors and outdoors, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Thursday.

    Sturgeon said the move was "the only responsible decision we can reach" as the country experiences rising new coronavirus cases.

    Speaking at First Minister's questions on Thursday she also said that the reopening of call centres and offices where staff are currently working from home would "definitely not take place" before 1 October, when the policy comes under review.

    Sturgeon said that it is "not possible at this stage" for Scotland to move beyond phase three of its strategy to come out of coronavirus lockdown.

    She admitted that the new rules would likely remain in place "for some time yet" as the newest estimates who the R number in Scotland - the average number of people infected by each person with the virus - could be reaching as high as 1.5.

    "For now, working from home will remain the default position", Sturgeon said. "To help reduce transmission - but also simplify the rules as much as possible - this new limit will apply both indoors, in houses, in pubs and restaurants, and also outdoors including in private gardens", she said.

    Sturgeon said the legislation will come into force on Monday but that the population should comply with the law immediately.

    The rules do include certain exceptions, however, such as gatherings at organised sports events and places of worship. Children under 12 will also not count as part of the gathering limit.

    The 20 person limits for funerals, weddings, and civil partnerships will remain in place and will also apply to receptions and wakes.

    The previous rules permitted groups of up to eight people from three different households to meet indoors and for 15 people from five households to meet outdoors.

    This follows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing Wednesday that people in England "must not meet socially in groups of more than six" from Monday.

    Tags:
    restrictions, Nicola Sturgeon, COVID-19, Scotland
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