Edinburgh, Jan 17 (IANS) New tighter Covid-19 restrictions came into force in Scotland with changes for takeaway outlets, and click and collect shopping.
Under the new curbs which came into force on Saturday, customers buying takeaway food and coffee are no longer allowed inside premises, staff must serve from a hatch or doorway, Xinhua news agency reported.
Now only retailers selling essential items — clothing, footwear, baby equipment, homeware and books — can provide click and collect services.
Customer collections can only be made outdoors, with staggered pick-up times to avoid queues.
The changes are among six new rules announced by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this week in an attempt to drive down the region’s infection rate.
She has expanded on the rules that were initially implemented by law on January 5, telling the Scottish Parliament that the new restrictions are “regrettable” but are a “means to an end”.
More than half of all cases in Scotland have been blamed for the new variant of the virus, prompting Sturgeon to tell Parliament that it “makes it far more difficult to get the R number back below 1, without severe restrictions”.
The R number, or the coronavirus reproduction number, is one of many indicators scientists use to determine how fast Covid-19 is spreading in the country.
If the R number is above one, it means the number of cases will increase exponentially.
Britain’s R number is estimated at between 1.2 and 1.3, compared with last week’s one and 1.4, the British government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said on Friday.
Scotland also recorded its highest death figure from coronavirus since May 2020 in the week ending January 10.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.