NICOLA Sturgeon said she wanted to cry after seeing pictures of young people crowding outside bars and pubs over the weekend, as she warned she will not hesitate to shut hospitality venues again if the virus starts to spread.

The First Minister said she has "made no bones about the fact that the return of schools" is the priority and the Scottish Government will not allow this to be compromised.

It followed a cluster of Covid-19 cases linked to a pub in Aberdeen.

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NHS Grampian said the number of positive tests arising from an outbreak at The Hawthorn Bar in Holburn Street now stands at 27, having been 13 on Sunday.

The pub said the cluster was linked to customers who visited on July 26. In a Facebook post, it said: "We assure all customers we have been and continue to do our utmost to protect their safety and we continue with strict rules and measures in place."

Meanwhile, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said 14 people had now tested positive following an outbreak in the area.

Ms Sturgeon urged everyone to follow the rules.

She said: "If it sounds as if I'm pleading with people, it's because I am pleading with people, because I know the consequences will be dire if we let this thing get out of control again."

She said Scotland is "not anywhere near" moving into the next phase of exiting lockdown, which will only happen when the virus is no longer considered a significant threat.

Speaking during her regular Covid-19 briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: "Of course it's not just this incident in Aberdeen.

"Across the country and across social media we're seeing evidence of people, and it is largely younger people, gathering together with little or no physical distancing in place.

"I've seen pictures on social media over this weekend that not to put too fine a point on it, made me want to cry looking at them."

She said every time someone flouts the rules they put everyone else at risk.

The First Minister urged people to help protect others and ensure restrictions on pubs, restaurants and other venues don't have to be reimposed, adding: "Because be in no doubt, if we have to do that, we will because we will have no choice."

She said opening up the economy is a "delicate balance, I make no bones about it, and it doesn't take much for that to be thrown off kilter".

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She added: "And if that happens then we will unfortunately – it's not something I want to do – have to consider further restrictions up to and including, perhaps, the further shutdown of premises like pubs and restaurants, and that's the last thing I want to do."

Ms Sturgeon added: "I've made no bones about the fact that the return of schools, for obvious the priority of the government. We will not allow that to be compromised if taking action elsewhere can protect that objective."

The First Minister said prevention is better than cure, adding: "It is like forest fires – if they don't start, then we don't have to control them."

Elsewhere, she said: "I don't want to have to impose any further restrictions on how people live their lives.

"But equally, I won't hesitate because we have seen over the past four months the damage this illness does to people and we can't allow that to happen."

Despite fears over new clusters, Ms Sturgeon said there had been no new Covid deaths for the 18th day in a row.