NICOLA Sturgeon has urged the public to “stay at home” as much as possible to avoid spending Christmas alone due to self-isolation rules.
The First Minister made the comments as she told a coronavirus briefing that a “tsunami” of Omicron cases is now hitting Scotland – after becoming the dominant variant in the country.
The surge in Omicron cases now accounts for 51.3% of cases in Scotland.
She said yesterday: “Even if it did turn out to generally less severe, for some it will still cause severe illness and, tragically, more people will die.
“Just three weeks ago I really thought we’d turned a corner and had a genuine prospect of a much more normal run-up to Christmas.”
She added: “The emergence of Omicron really has been the cruellest of blows.
“The tsunami I warned about a week ago is now starting to hit us.
“However, we are not powerless in the face of it.”
Ms Sturgeon warned over the “cruellest of blows” with the latest surge hitting just in time for Christmas, urging the public to question “whether it’s worth the risk” to end up being left self-isolating on December 25.
She said: “I’m asking people in the run-up to Christmas to stay at home as much as they can. Every time we go anywhere now, we’re at a not insignificant risk of getting Covid.
“Anyone who gets Covid now will be isolating over Christmas Day.
“Think about whether it’s worth it to you to run the risk of not being with your family on Christmas Day.”
It comes as the First Minister joined the other UK devolved administrations to ramp up their demands for more cash support.
The first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all pressed Boris Johnson for more financial aid as protective measures are being put in place across the three nations to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
On Friday, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that a Cobra meeting with the devolved nations would go ahead over the weekend to discuss the response to the Omicron variant.
Ms Sturgeon spoke to Boris Johnson on Friday where she emphasised the “extreme urgency of the crisis” for businesses in the hospitality, events, culture and related sectors, which are already suffering a severe financial impact.
Earlier, she explained how her pledge of £100m support for firms hit by her latest festive restrictions would be divided.
She said £66m will go to hospitality, £20m for culture, £8m to food and drink suppliers and £3m each for the wedding and tourism sectors.
Speaking after the call with the Prime Minister, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesperson added: “The First Minister also made clear that the devolved administrations require clarity that additional funding support would be available, and also on how it can be triggered by any or all of the UK administrations, in the event of further protective measures being necessary to tackle the virus in the period ahead.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak met virtually with the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the British Chambers of Commerce on Friday afternoon after he returned early from a trip to California.
A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Chancellor spoke to business and industry leaders this afternoon.
“We recognise how important the festive period is for so many businesses and the Government will continue to engage constructively on how it can best provide ongoing support to the businesses and sectors affected.”
The groups raised concerns about the impact of cancellations and the importance of clear messaging from the Government.
A Downing Street spokesman said the pair discussed the “economic disruption caused by Covid” and vowed to keep working together.