Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is pictured in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on December 30th. Jeff J. Mitchell / Pool / AFP / Getty Images

Most of mainland Scotland will have to stay home from midnight on Tuesday local time, according to Nicola Sturgeon, the first Scottish Minister.

Sturgeon announced the order in the Scottish Parliament Monday afternoon, saying it would “be similar to the lockdown in March this year”.

The stay at home order is for all parts of Scotland that are in Level 4, including most of the mainland. Most of the Scottish islands will stay at Level 3, she said.

The ordinance will impose a “legal obligation” on Scottish residents to “stay home except for essential purposes,” including caring for, essential shopping, essential exercise and being part of an extended household.

In contrast to the previous spring closure, there is no limit to the frequency of outdoor exercises.

From Tuesday, a maximum of two adults from two households can meet outdoors.

No one is allowed to travel to or from Scotland unless there is an essential purpose in doing so. The places of worship are also closed except for broadcasting purposes.

Schools will remain closed until February 1, and Sturgeon calls this the “toughest decision”. Sturgeon stressed that the level of community broadcast was “too high” to be reopened. During this time, Scottish students will continue to do distance learning. Vulnerable children and children of frontline workers are exempt from this rule.

All Scottish residents must work from home unless they are absolutely unable to do so. The ordinance will come into force on Tuesday and will remain in effect for the whole of January. Sturgeon said she couldn’t rule out the measures being extended or changed.

Sturgeon said the stay at home order was triggered by a surge in positivity and the country’s hospitalization rate.

“For the week of December 23-30, the 7-day incidence of cases per 100,000 population rose 65% from 136 per 100,225 per 100,000,” she said.

On hospital stays, she added that she was awaiting the latest numbers “to show that the total number of COVID hospitalized patients nationally is now close to its April high”.

Experts “estimate we may be about four weeks behind the position in London and the South East of England,” said Sturgeon.

“We have an opportunity in Scotland to avert this deteriorating situation, but we have to act quickly.”

Sturgeon concluded that “it is important to further limit the interaction between different households in order to contain the spread and bring the situation back under control”.

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