PRISONERS could be confined to their cells for up to a month to tackle coronavirus under new regulations proposed by Scottish ministers.

The number of showers for inmates could also be cut from one a day to two a week under a statutory instrument, which allows laws to be changed with an Act of Holyrood.

The Scottish Prison Service has confirmed two Covid-19 cases in its jails, with around 30 people self-isolating.

Last week, John Angus, 66, who was being held at HMP Edinburgh, became the first Scottish prisoner to die from the virus.

Under the regulations, all prisoners in a jail could be confined to cells for 14 days on the advice of a healthcare professional, and this could then be extended by up to 14 days.

The regulations will also allow for individual prison governors to suspend visiting, work and recreation as well as curtailing books and newspapers for inmates.

Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell, the convener of Holyrood’s Justice Committee, said the rule changes were “likely to have a major impact on the environment within our prisons. What steps are being taken to monitorthe mental health and well-being of prison staff and prisoners to minimise stress, sickness and absence rates, increased risk of suicide or self-harm, etc?”

Emma Jardine, of Howard League Scotland, said: “These rules give an enormous amount of discretion to individual prison governors, which we need to ensure is balanced by appropriate levels of oversight.”

Scotland’s prison population is currently around 7,340 inmates, around 820 less than the same week last year.