NICOLA Sturgeon has warned a strict lockdown could be re-imposed if people do not keep to the slightly relaxed rules – while admitting she has “never been prouder” of Scotland for the public's response to the crisis so far. 

The First Minister has urged caution that despite “significant progress” being made over the last few weeks as the country has been locked down, it was important to recognise that “the virus hasn’t gone away”. 

From today, Scots are now able to meet up with one other household per day, in no more than groups of eight – and the meetings must be outdoors and those in different households must maintain a two-metre gap. 

Ms Sturgeon has praised the sacrifices that Scots have made during the lockdown, despite more work to be done to suppress Covid-19. 

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She said: “Recent weeks have been really tough, the toughest most of us can ever remember. I can’t tell you that there’s not tough times still lying ahead. 

“I have never been prouder of this country than I am right now. Let’s continue to stick together and let’s continue to do right by each other.” 

The First Minister is expected that “the vast majority of people will do the right thing” and stick by the rules. 

She added: “We’re never going to get 100 per cent compliance with every single aspect of this all of the time.  

“Every single one of us here has a responsibility – we have a responsibility to ourselves, to the people we love most but to our wider communities and to the country. 

“Never before in my lifetime has that need for collective action and a sense of solidarity mattered more.” 

With many family members reuniting over the weekend for the first time in weeks, Ms Sturgeon acknowledged that it will be tempting for some to flout the rules. 

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She stressed that “it might be harder in some ways to be able to see them but not give them a hug”.  

Ms Sturgeon added: “We are not putting these rules in place to make your life difficult or get in the way of enjoying your weekend or enjoying the sunshine. This really matters so please abide by these rules. 

“Every time one of us doesn’t, we offer that bridge that the virus can jump across. If it jumps across one bridge then somebody else might create another one and before you know it, we’ve got exponential growth and virus getting a route back to square one.” 

The First Minister was asked whether Scotland could be locked down again if people do not keep to the rules, allowing the virus to spiral out of control again. 

She said: “If people don’t stick by the rules and act in a way that gives the virus an ability to spread, then it is possible that we would be back in the strict phase of lockdown and be there for longer. 

“This virus is out there, it hasn’t gone away and it will be looking for any opportunity to spread. Our job is not to give it those opportunities.  

“I can’t rule out that we go backwards. If we all enjoy the slight relaxation but do so responsibly and do so within the rules, then we keep heading in the right direction.”