NICOLA Sturgeon has warned against office Christmas parties as she urged Scots not to take the risk.

The First Minister said the best way of marking the festive season with colleagues is to do it virtually or postpone gatherings till next spring or summer.

She said it "might sound obvious, but it is really important". 

Ms Sturgeon made the comments during the Scottish Government's regular coronavirus briefing. 

She said there had been a further 734 cases of Covid-19 recorded across Scotland during the past 24 hours.

She said: "Obviously if you can't work from home and you're sharing a workplace with colleagues right now, I understand why it might be tempting to have some sort of celebration or social gathering at work because this obviously has been a really difficult time for everyone. 

"But office parties, especially if they involve alcohol, present a real risk of transmission. 

"People are less likely to stick to physical distancing requirements than when they're working, and more likely to pass around food or drinks without perhaps washing their hands as carefully as they should. 

"But I'm asking everybody, please don't take these risks. 

"By far the best way of marking Christmas with your colleagues this year is to it virtually. 

"It's not as much fun, I appreciate that, but it is much, much safer.

"And if you can't do that, then perhaps think about postponing your Christmas celebration until into next year - perhaps the spring or the summer of next year, when hopefully we will be starting to see some greater normality return to our lives. 

"I know that all of this is really hard, especially at the end of a horrible year when I think everybody could do with letting their hair down a bit. 

"But these times are not normal, and it is really important that we get through them as safely as possible."

She added: "Hopefully by this time next year all of this will be starting to feel like a really bad memory. 

"But this year I think it is the case that the best Christmas gift we can give family and friends is as far as possible to keep our distance and keep them safe."