Christmas parties might have to wait until summer, says Nicola Sturgeon

Office Christmas parties that cannot be held virtually face being postponed until summer, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Edinburgh's George Street would normally be full of work Christmas parties at this time of year
Edinburgh's George Street would normally be full of work Christmas parties at this time of year

The First Minister said face-to-face gatherings present a “real risk” of transmitting coronavirus and warned against them.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Monday, she announced no coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours but there have been 734 new cases.

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Ms Sturgeon warned death figures tend to be “artificially low” on Mondays as many registry offices are closed at the weekend.

She welcomed the first care home residents in Scotland being vaccinated on Monday morning as the mass inoculation programme expands but said virus remains a “real and present danger”.

Not holding office Christmas parties in person is among the precautions needed to help tackle the spread, the First Minister said.

“If you can’t work from home and you’re sharing a workplace with colleagues just now I understand why it might be tempting to have some sort of celebration or social gathering at work because this obviously has been a really difficult time for everyone”, she said.

“But office parties, especially if they involve alcohol, present a real risk of transmission.

“People are less likely to stick to physical distancing requirements than when they are working and more likely to pass around food or drinks without perhaps washing their hands as carefully as they should.

“So I’m asking everybody please don’t take these risks. By far the best way of marking Christmas with your colleagues this year is virtually.”

The First Minister said people planning to meet with others indoors during the temporary Christmas relaxation should now start cutting unnecessary contacts.

She stressed not meeting indoors is the safest option.

Ms Sturgeon also announced the Protect Scotland app can now be downloaded by any secondary school pupil, when it was previously limited to those aged at least 16.

She said: “By downloading the app, young people will be helping to control and mitigate any outbreaks amongst young people and I think that will be particularly important over holiday periods.”

Giving a further update on the daily coronavirus figures, Ms Sturgeon said the daily test positivity rate is 7.6%, up from 5.2% on Sunday.

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