Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland’s Christmas plans should not be cancelled in light of the new covid variant.

The First Minister asked for “collective national vigilance” against the spread of the Omicron variant which has been detected in six Scottish cases so far

Asked if travel plans for the festive season should be, the SNP leader said: “I’m not asking people to put plans on hold.”

"I will during this next phase of the pandemic if this proves necessary, I’ll do what I’ve done in that previous stages - I’ll stand here and try to share with you in a real time basis what we’re asking people to do and why.”

“Right now what I’m asking people to do is really up the level of compliance with all of the protections that are still in place. I think it’s really important that we see these for what they are - protections, not restrictions.”

The First Minister said that washing hands, wearing masks and keeping social distance in well-ventilated rooms were still the best preventative measures for halting the spread of the virus.

Last Christmas with the whole of the UK in lockdown, restrictions meant that there was very limited social mixing over the festive season.

Sturgeon added: “As I’m standing here right now I still hope, really fervently hope, to be having a normal Christmas with my family. "

"Can I say that with 100 per cent certainty? No, but that’s what I hope and that’s what I think we should all be hopeful for”

In a move to reassure Scots, Sturgeon said: “It is now time to step up on all that. If we all do that, we maximise our chances of limiting this while we learn all about it without the need for any further protections”

“So that is my message, request, call it what you want, to everybody across the country. This is a moment again for collective national vigilance and compliance with these protections to try to keep all of us as safe as possible.”

Sturgeon said there was still a huge amount that is not known about the Omicron variant, although there are concerns it might be more transmissible than Delta.

She added: “What we do know at this stage confirms in my view that we should treat it seriously and that we should continue to act on a precautionary basis at this stage.

“While we all hope that the emerging understanding of it will reduce rather than increase our level of concern, there is no doubt that this presents potentially the most challenging development in the course of the pandemic for quite some time.”

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