NICOLA Sturgeon has reassured children that Santa will not face Covid-19 restrictions on Christmas Eve because ”he’s a key worker”.

The First Minister also joked that Scotland’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, could be forced to dress up as The Grinch at a future coronavirus briefing after she was forced to defend his suggestion that people should prepare for a “digital Christmas” this year.

Ms Sturgeon addressed children across Scotland, reassuring them that Santa will not face any coronavirus restrictions when he delivers presents on Christmas Eve after reports that grotto appearances may have to be conducted virtually through Zoom.

She said: “If there are any kids watching, I know Santa will not be prevented from delivering your presents on Christmas Eve.

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“Santa is a key worker and he’s got lots of magic powers that make him safe to do that. “If he’s having to do grotto appearances by Zoom, that’s to keep you safe, it’s not that Santa is at any risk.

“Santa will be delivering presents across the world as normal.”

Ms Sturgeon warned that it is “unlikely to be able to celebrate Christmas with no limits on the people in our houses” but insisted if people follow the rules in the weeks ahead, there is more chance of more normality being allowed.

She said: “We are unlikely to be able to celebrate Christmas with no limits on the people in our houses and no limits to what we do.

“The more we get this virus under control right now, the greater normality, the greater chance of having some ability to interact with our loved ones.”

The First Minister also jokingly indicated that Professor Leitch could be forced into a festive outfit after she fielded questions about his comments that people should prepare for a “digital Christmas” this year.

She said: “I’m spending so much time responding to Jason’s comments today, I should make him dress up as The Grinch for Halloween and do a briefing in that to cheer everybody up.”

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Chief nursing officer, Professor Fiona McQueen stressed the importance of people adhering to the current rules in order to stand a better chance of relaxations around the festive holdiays.

She said that the Scottish Government is "encouraging people, if they possibly can" to "Christmas shop early so that we can reduce the crowding within shops because the two-metre distance is incredibly important". 

She added: "There a re a number of the 14-day cycles to go. We know that if people follow the rules, then we will get back to a more even keel."