Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th January 2021.

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The First Minister:

I can say that I am desperately sorry that we are in this position. Nobody wants to be in this position, but the new variant of the virus has created, yet again, a very challenging situation. It is in everybody’s interests, and it is essential if we are to stop the situation from overwhelming us in all sorts of ways, that we limit human interaction as much as possible.

That is the cruellest thing about the virus: the way to stop it from spreading is to stop doing all the things that are so valuable to us as human beings. There is no easy way to say that or sugarcoat it. However, we want to try to deal with that social isolation as much as possible, which is why we have always tried to create in the rules provisions for outdoor interaction, through which, even now, people can meet somebody from another household.

I understand the importance of worship for people, and the restrictions that I have announced today will not be in place for a moment longer than necessary. I do not expect anybody to feel anything other than dismay at today’s restrictions, but I ask people to understand that we would not be doing this if we did not think it absolutely necessary.

I understand that the Prime Minister is due to speak at 8 o’clock this evening. Obviously, I cannot predict what he is going to say, but I suspect that it will not be dissimilar to what is happening here, because every part of the UK is facing a really perilous position right now.