Scots should get ready for a “digital Christmas” that will not be normal, a health boss has warned.

Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government, has given a frank assessment of the spread of covid-19 as Nicola Sturgeon prepares to detail the five new alert levels to restrict the spread of the disease.

Professor Leitch said that the introduction of the five-tier Scottish lockdown, due to be formally announced on Friday, would bring the infection rate down but was cautious about easing restrictions on people’s lives over the winter.

Leitch said: “I’m hopeful costs now may get us a more family Christmas. But Christmas is not going to be normal, absolutely no question about that.”

Professor Jason Leitch

He told BBC Scotland: “We’re not going to be in large family groupings with multiple families coming round that is fiction for this year."

Leitch added: "But I’m hopeful that if we can get numbers down to a certain level we may be able to get some form of normality. But people should get their digital Christmas ready.”

The current restrictions mean that people cannot visit each other’s houses and pubs and bars are closed across central Scotland.

Leitch said that updated figures on the R number due to be published shortly showing the rate of replication of the virus should show that the restrictions are having some effect.

He said: “Our number will be published either today or tomorrow and I'm hopeful that will be down just a little. It still won’t be anywhere near we’re beginning to see the deceleration of that increase.”

Scotland is currently covered by a series of local and national restrictions.

However, the Scottish Government is moving towards a five tier framework which will see different restrictions apply in different parts of the country based on infection levels.

MSPs will debate the plan next week and, if approved, it will come into effect on November 2nd.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said:

“People have made huge sacrifices for months on end, they will be devastated to hear that Christmas as they know it is cancelled this year. Many will rightly question whether the government have used the past six months as well as they could have to expand testing, shore up our NHS and prepare for a second wave.

“If the government expects months more of sacrifices it needs to be honest with the public - Nicola Sturgeon must release the data and projections underpinning these proposals and allow the public to debate them openly.”