Scotland’s new stay at home law explained - and if it could be put in place across the UK

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new tighter lockdown in response to rising coronavirus rates.

The First Minister announced in Parliament today (4 Jan) that the new, stricter lockdown will include a legal requirement to stay at home.

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But what does this mean, what are the penalties and could it be implemented elsewhere in the UK?

Here’s what you need to know.

What does the stay at home law entail?

Scotland’s stay at home law, which is part of the tougher lockdown, will come into effect from midnight on Monday 4 January, and is being implemented in order to contain the quickly-spreading new strain of Covid-19.

New laws will require people to stay at home and work from home where possible, and outdoor gatherings will also be cut back, with Scottish residents only allowed to meet one person from one other household outside.

Schools will mostly operate via online and remote learning until at least February, with places of worship to be closed and group exercise banned.

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Residents will only be allowed to leave home for essential purposes, such as essential shopping, caring responsibilities and exercise. However, no limit is to be put on how many times people can go out to exercise.

These new rules will apply across the Scottish mainland until at least the end of January, but island areas will remain under Level 3 restrictions.

However, Ms Sturgeon said that these areas would be carefully monitored, and the new rules for the rest of the country kept under review.

What are the penalties for breaching the rules?

There will be minimum fines of £60 for those who breach the new stay at home rules.

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Will the rest of the UK have a stay at home rule implemented?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to make an announcement at 8pm on Monday evening (4 Jan) in response to the rising rates of coronavirus infections.

Although it’s not yet known if a similar rule requiring people to stay at home other than for essential purposes will come into place throughout England, the Prime Minister has said that “tougher measures” will be brought into place.

The latest figures available show that, in England, there has been a 33 per cent rise in the number of patients with coronavirus in hospital between Christmas Day and 2 January.

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During a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London earlier today, Mr Johnson said: “If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.”

He underlined that the government "will do everything we can to keep the virus under control", but added, "I must stress at this critical moment it is so vital that people keep disciplined."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is now in the second week of a six-week lockdown (which came into place on 26 December), and Wales entered into a new lockdown on 20 December, with this likely to remain in place until the next three week review at the end of January.