The Omicron crisis in Scotland is ‘likely to last until March’ as the country prepares for the First Minister to announce new restrictions over the festive period.
Nicola Sturgeon is set to address Holyrood later today amid rising cases of the Omicron covid variant and will also address the nation in a televised announcement.
It comes amid reports that Deputy First Minister John Swinney told public officials: “This situation is likely to last three months.”
Mr Swinney, who is the Covid Recovery Secretary, has warned council, Police Scotland and NHS bosses of “significant disruption” to public services lasting for “around three months”.
The Scottish Sun reports that in a letter sent on Saturday after a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Room, the Covid Recovery Secretary said: “It is now likely that there is significant risk of disruption to public services in the coming days and weeks.
“Based on the modelling at the moment, this situation is likely to last for around three months.
“While an emergency response may be required, appropriate sustainability and business continuity plans need to be put in place.”
Over the weekend Mr Swinney was asked if restrictions could include a limit on the number of people allowed to gather together.
While he refused to rule out restrictions around Christmas Day gatherings, he said that ministers were considering extending vaccine passports and the Covid testing scheme to more venues such as hospitality and cinemas, which is already in place for nightclubs, gigs and other large events.
Mr Swinney also said that there was no justification at this stage for closing hospitality businesses altogether, despite advice from Public Health Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon has already urged people to “defer” Christmas parties as the Omicron variant surges.
What will Nicola Sturgeon say today?
In an update to the Scottish Parliament today, the First Minister will outline measures expected to include limits on household mixing and an extension to vaccine passports.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said it was “inevitable” that additional protections would be introduced in a bid to slow transmission, while boosters are rolled out to all adults.
What time is Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement today?
Nicola Sturgeon will update Parliament today on the Covid situation in Scotland at around 2.15pm.
This could be slightly later depending on the previous items running to time.