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The number of people allowed to meet up in Scotland has been cut to six amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic "accelerating".It came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a "tightening and extension" of lockdown rules.Changes planned for next week have been put back until at least 5 October.It means that theatres, live music venues, indoor soft play facilities and indoor contact sports for people aged over 12 will not now open next Monday.The size of groups which can meet in homes, gardens, pubs or restaurants has been cut to six people from two households.
And spectators will not be able to return to sports stadia and other venues over the next three weeks - although two pilot events due take place at the weekend will still happen.
Live: Latest on coronavirus in Scotland
Scotland is currently recording three times more positive cases of the virus on average each day than it was three weeks ago - with a further 161 cases being logged on Thursday. Ms Sturgeon said the spread of the virus was accelerating - albeit from a low base and not as rapidly as it was back in March and April".She said this was "not entirely unexpected" given the recent steps to reopen the economy - but said further planned moves to lift lockdown had to put on pause for now.The first minister said: "Right now, given the rise in cases, it's the only responsible decision we can reach."
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Ms Sturgeon also said the reopening of offices and call centres will "definitely not take place" before October, saying that "for now, working from home will remain the default position".Until now, eight people from three households had been allowed to meet indoors in Scotland, with larger gathering permitted outside.However all gatherings will now be cut to a maximum of six people from two households, both at home and in hospitality settings - although children under 12 will not count towards the limit.This follows a similar move announced earlier for England on Wednesday.
Ms Sturgeon said she knew the pausing of plans to ease lockdown would be difficult for people to hear
But there will be "limited exceptions" for organised sports, places of worship and wedding and funeral services - which will be capped at 20 guests.The new limits will officially come into force on Monday, although Ms Sturgeon said that she was asking people to immediately abide by the stricter new limits on gatherings.The first minister admitted the new announcements would be "hard for people to hear".She said: "I know that after six long, hard months, we are still asking the public to make a lot of difficult sacrifices."That is unavoidable, given the nature of the challenge we face."However, I want to be clear that while we still face a battle to get and keep Covid under control, we are in a stronger position than earlier in the year."She insisted that the Test and Protect contact tracing system was "working well", adding that without this "the virus would be spreading further and faster, and we would require to apply much stricter lockdown measures again."
Coronavirus lockdown measures
Coronavirus pandemic
Nicola Sturgeon
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