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Staff who worked from home during lockdown should ‘do so again’ urges First Minister

Scotland’s First Minister has urged employers to support their staff to work from home, if they did so at the start of the pandemic — until at least the middle of January.

This appeal from Nicola Sturgeon comes amid increasing concern over the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. In an update to the Scottish Parliament this Tuesday afternoon, she explained that the nation’s coronavirus restrictions are to be reviewed on a daily basis in the wake of an increasing number of Omicron cases.

She has urged everyone across Scotland to stick closely to the guidelines. This included strict guidance to employers with staff who can fulfil their duties from home and testing before mixing with people from other houses.

These changes come as Orkney recorded seven cases over the past 24 hours, according to the daily figures published by the Scottish Government. This has brought the county’s total to 952.

On the new restrictions, the First Minister said: “To be blunt, if you had staff working from home at the start of the pandemic, please now enable them to do so again.”

“I’m asking you to do this from now, until the middle of January, when we will review this advice again.”

She also said: “Test and Protect is deploying enhanced contact tracing for all cases with the s-gene drop-out that is indicative of Omicron. For these cases, household contacts of close contacts, rather than just the close contacts themselves are being asked to test and isolate.”

For non-Omicron cases, if you have COVID symptoms you are being urged to book a PCR test and self-isolate until you receive the result. If the result is negative, you can end isolation if you are double vaccinated; if it is positive, you must isolate for the full ten days.

Ms Sturgeon has also asked everyone to test “regularly and repeatedly” with lateral flow device test.

“We are asking everyone to do a lateral flow test before mixing with people from other households — and on every occasion you intend doing so. That means before going to a pub, a restaurant, visiting anybody else’s house, or even going shopping.”

Concluding, the First Minister said: “If we do all of these things, difficult though I appreciate they are, even with a more transmissible variant, I do really hope we can avoid the need for any further measures. I cannot guarantee this however.”